A trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without experiencing a Māori cultural show, also known as a Māori cultural performance. Before you book there are a few key things to consider so you can really make the most of this unique experience. Because when expectations are met, it’s easier for the real learning to begin and for a deeper cultural understanding to be gained.
As New Zealand’s only living Māori village, Whakarewarewa Village is as authentic as it gets – meaning real people actually live here. At Whaka Village, as it’s affectionately called by the locals, you’ll be in the heart of a genuine Māori village – passing by people’s homes and interacting with real families going about their everyday lives.
Whakarewarewa is also the legacy and home of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people and for over 200 years, has welcomed visitors from around the world to share their unique way of life.
When does the show run and is there a strict schedule to follow? Depending on your travel schedule, finding a Māori cultural show to fit right into your itinerary is crucial. If you only have one day in town and need a daytime show, then make sure you check exact timings and how long the show will run.
Whakarewarewa offers two cultural shows daily: 11.15 am and 2.00 pm which allows more flexibility in planning a visit. Bonus, in summer, there’s a third show at 12.30pm.
Some shows will offer you time at the end to engage with the performers at the end. Whakarewarewa offers this opportunity and photos with cultural performers is always a fun souvenir to take home. Whakarewarewa, as it’s situated in the heart of a geothermal valley, also offers you the opportunity to discover incredible natural wonders at your own pace before or after the show.
Tip: Make sure you allow extra time allotted for this, as well as ensure there’s plenty of memory space available in your camera!
Whether you’re based in central Rotorua or further afield, it’s good to know a bit about the location of the show before booking. This is particularly helpful to know if you don’t have a car or rely on public transport to get around.
If you’re a family, find out if the facilities are stroller friendly and if there are areas kids can walk around and explore.
For those looking for a daytime show, venues that provide shelter for unpredictable weather and covered seating for the strong New Zealand sun is also something to think about. Whakarewarewa’s shows are always under cover, so you’ll be comfortable throughout the experience no matter the weather!
What else is there to do after the show? At the end of a Māori cultural performance, you may be feeling a bit more inspired to learn more about the culture.
And what better way to learn is there than food? Sharing a meal is definitely an enjoyable way to experience a culture so make sure you have the opportunity to try some traditional Māori food before or after a show.
Whakarewarewa gives you several tantalising options for this – a complete hangi meal experience, a unique hangi pie experience or a tasty corn on the cob experience. All cooked in bubbling geothermal waters and steam boxes that you can view throughout the village.
Other options you can enjoy at Whakarewarewa are a number of scenic nature trails ranging from 5-minute short strolls to longer 50-minute walks. Guided tours are also available to help bring to life the history and heritage around you.
Another bonus at Whakarewarewa is watching the world famous Pōhutu Geyser erupt reaching up to 30m (100 feet) above the ground.
The chance to really interact and engage with local Māori is something a lot of people hope for when booking a show.
Because Whakarewarewa is a real-life Māori village, chances for cultural engagement and exchange are guaranteed. Many of Whakarewarewa’s team are village locals so you can learn first-hand what it’s like to live in a challenging geothermal environment. You can see for yourself how Mother Nature’s steam and mineral pools are used for cooking and bathing.
Many of Whakarewarewa’s team are expert weavers and demonstrate how flax is used to create works of art as well as practical utensils for daily use.
Kapa haka (traditional performing arts) is a captivating way to learn about Māori culture but also allows you to take part in some basic song and dance movements as well as expand your Te Reo Māori vocabulary. Kia ora!