Tamaki Maori Village Overnight Stay – is it worth the money?

by Katja Kaven
The evening ceremony at the Tamaki Maori Village

Do you want to experience some traditions of the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand? The Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that. But is staying overnight at the Maori experience Rotorua worth the money? Keep reading to find out more!

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About the 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 the Tamaki Maori Village

If 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.

Evening Experience

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€).

Disclaimer: After reading some of my other blog posts on New Zealand, Kiwi Experience reached out to me and set me up a discount code to share with you. Use “kiwiexperience5” for 5% off all passes (even those on promo). I don’t make any money from it, so this is really just to save you some money!

Overnight Stay

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.

The accommodation in the Tamaki Maori Village
Your home for the night

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.

You will spend the rest of the afternoon 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. Our host‘s brother and his partner joined us. 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
The evening ceremony is a big part of the Tamaki Maori Village experience
The ceremony begins

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.

Exploring the village

The different groups will then be led inside of the Maori village (a part where you haven’t been before). You will walk around different stations. There, you will 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.

You'll get acquainted with all kinds of Maori experiences in the Tamaki Maori Village
Me learning the poi dance – it’s actually harder than they make it look.

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.

You can't miss the traditional dinner at the Tamaki Maori Village!
Seeing where our Hangi was cooked

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.

The perfect ending to the perfect Tamaki Maori Village experience.
Ending the night on yet another highlight.

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 the 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! Have you got any questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me, I’d love to help you out!

Tip: If you’d like to follow along with my life after traveling, follow me on Instagram here.

Check out:

For more tips for your trip to New Zealand, make sure to take a look at these blog posts! The Best Activities with Kiwi ExperienceThe Best Accommodations in New ZealandThings to do in TaupoKiwi Experience – where to stay longer (how to spend 2 months in New Zealand)Free things to do in WellingtonThe best walks in New Zealand. Vegan on Kiwi Experience.

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Danica December 12, 2018 - 15:31

This is pretty interesting, Katja! I’m gonna bookmark for future reference. And then I’ll try to do some hongi. Girls are allowed to do that right? 🙂

tanlinesandtempeh December 13, 2018 - 11:20

Thank you for your comment, Danica! I’m glad this was helpful to you 🙂
That’s a tricky question because usually, only guys are chosen as chiefs. But I’ve heard of only-girls groups who went there as well.


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