For the ultimate Maori experience, you should visit the Living Maori Village, or formally known as Whakarewarewa.
The full name is actually “Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao,” meaning, The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao.
But that’s too long to say so the name was reduced to Whakarewarewa.
Phonetically, Whakarewarewa is pronounced fah-kah-ree-wah-ree-wah.
That’s not even the longest place name in New Zealand because there’s literally a hill that’s name is 85 letters long and is officially the longest place name in the world. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu
I felt obligated to share that.
But that’s not important right now.
But beside having one of the longest town names in the world it is a living, breathing piece of land in New Zealand and what that means, is that it’s geothermally active.
There is a tour available that costs $40.50 NZD and can be booked from their website but this only includes access to the town with an optional tour and optional Maori cultural performance show.
I attended the optional tour and show and really enjoyed my time in the village.
The whole experience starts with the twice-daily cultural performance show where my mother and I were the only non-Asian attendees. Strange to note but true nonetheless.
Immediately following the performance, the tour begins by forming into small groups with a tour guide leading the way through the village.
Nothing about the tour was life-changing but I still thought the tour was good and informational.
The indigenous Maori in the village live off the natural hot spring water for bathing, cooking, clothes washing, and whatever else earth-produced free hot water and steam can provide.
One of those things you HAVE to try is the geothermally cooked corn-on-the-cob for $2 during the tour.
It was amazing.
I wish they offered a free natural hot-spring bath but no such luck. That would have been a true 6-star experience.
The tour concludes with a great view of the Pohutu Geyser erupting in the distance.
Once the tour is over you can feel free to wander the premises which I would argue is the best part.
There’s a (rather hidden) spot with bubbling mud and a whole lake of hot-and-steamy water to explore with your camera along with a nice 1-2 hour RT hike for further investigating the area.
To sum it up, I enjoyed Whakarewarewa immensely but I think the price is a bit steep for what it is.
The tour was informative and I enjoyed taking pictures of the little town with my mom in tow.
I give it 3 out of 5 Norcal stars
Check it out for yourself
ADDRESS: 17 Tryon Street, Rotorua, New Zealand
PHONE: 07 349 3463
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