About Tamaki Maori Village
The Tamaki Maori Village is a rebuilt authentic, pre-European Maori Village built by the brothers Mike and Doug Tamaki. It is set in a 200-year-old native Tawa forest just 15 minutes outside of Rotorua and a very popular attraction.
Your Options at Tamaki Maori Village
When you want to go to the Tamaki Maori Village you have two options for your time there. You can either go for an Evening Experience or stay overnight.
The evening experience lasts around 3.5 hours and includes a Maori cultural experience and a traditional dinner and dessert buffet feast. It is usually NZD 130$ (around 80€) but if you’re traveling with Kiwi Experience it is only NZD 95$ (less than 60€).
The Overnight Stay at Tamaki Maori Village already starts in the afternoon and lasts until after breakfast the following day. You usually have to pay NZD 215$ (around 130€), with Kiwi Experience it is NZD 185$ (a bit more than 110€).
What to expect from the Overnight Stay
The Afternoon at Tamaki Village
The moment you get off your bus at Tamaki Village, you‘ll be greeted by your host, one of the Maori. He‘ll lead you inside the village singing a song to make sure you’ll be welcomed.
What follows is a welcome ceremony; your host will welcome you both in Maori and in English. Someone of your group that you’ve appointed to be Chief before will then give a speech, introducing himself and the group. You will all then sing a song that you prepared. Afterward, the host and your chief will press their noses together twice. This is called Hongi and is a traditional Maori greeting. It is now clear that your group came in peace and you are welcome in the village.
At this point, your host will bring you to the dining room where a buffet of cakes and cookies awaits you. You’ll spend your time eating and talking to your host before learning a Maori song. Your host will then bring you to the Whare Moe (sleeping house), which will be your home for the night. He‘ll explain the different carvings and their meaning to you.
The rest of the afternoon is spent outside if the weather allows it. You’ll play various games together that require concentration and quick reflexes (most of them involving sticks). At this point, some other Maoris might join you. We were joined by our host‘s brother and his partner. This part of the afternoon is a lot of fun. After the games, you get some time to do whatever you want before the evening ceremony begins.
The Evening Experience at Tamaki Village
At this point, the people just doing the evening experience will join you. The evening starts with yet another welcome ceremony. This time, a group of Maori will come and intimidate you with their Haka (Maori war dance). Most noticeably hereby are their wide-opened eyes and their stuck-out tongues. They’ll offer a piece of plant to each of the groups‘ chiefs. This serves as a peace offer. If the chiefs take it, this means that they came in peace which will be sealed with a Hongi.
The different groups will then be led inside of the Maori village (a part where you haven’t been before). You’ll make your way around different stations where you’ll play games again, join some Maori women in their poi dance (if you’re a girl and get chosen to do so), and learn the Haka. In addition, you’ll learn about the Maori‘s houses, wakas (canoes), and face tattooing.
Afterward, you’ll go to a theater where you‘ll watch the Maori perform. I’ve really enjoyed this part of the evening since their singing and dancing is really beautiful and takes you to another world.
Another highlight of the evening is the traditional Hangi meal that has been cooking under the earth all day. It consists of different kinds of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The Hangi is served on a big buffet where you can actually go as many times as you want. At some point during the evening, your group staying overnight will perform the song you’ve learned earlier that day. In addition to the traditional Hangi, there will also be a dessert buffet so that you’ll leave the table full and happy.
After Dinner at the Tamaki Village
If you’re doing the overnight stay, your experience won’t stop here. A bar, the option for an open campfire, and spa pools await you. You can stay in the hot pools for as long as you want to and enjoy the perfect end to an amazing day before going to sleep in your Whare Moe.
Before leaving Tamaki Maori Village the next morning, you’ll also have a breakfast buffet.
Is the Overnight Stay Worth the Money?
First of all, whichever option in Tamaki Maori Village you choose, you’ll have an absolutely amazing time. That being said, if you can spare the money, I‘d highly encourage you to do the overnight stay.
Even after two months in New Zealand and countless cool activities, this is still in my top three activities here (find a full blog post on my favorite activities with Kiwi Experience here). You’ll just be able to get so much closer and learn so much more about Maori culture.
As always, if you’re going to the Tamaki Maori Village or you’ve ever been there, let me know how you’ve liked it. I’d love to hear about your experience!