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The TRUTH About the Rotorua Maori Experience (& The BEST Tour!)

The TRUTH About the Rotorua Maori Experience (& The BEST Tour!)

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A Rotorua Maori Experience is the best way to learn about the Maori culture while visiting New Zealand. This blog post includes everything you need to know about a Maori Experience including the company we recommend and what you can expect if you go for yourself!

New Zealand is a country that has so much to offer its visitors. From the stunning Southern Alps, huge volcanoes, breathtaking hiking trails, and turquoise lakes, New Zealand has something for everyone.

These, although unique things to do in New Zealand, do exist elsewhere in the world. However, there is one experience that only exists in New Zealand – a Rotorua Maori Experience!

The Maori people were the first culture to call New Zealand home. In the years prior they have been the sole guardians of New Zealand’s rich flora and fauna. To this day, the Maori culture still holds a huge significance to New Zealand and its people.

A Rotorua Maori experience is the best way to learn about the history and culture of the Maori people in a fun and interactive way where you’ll get involved yourself!

Here’s everything you need to know about a Rotorua Maori Experience including the best tour to choose from and what to expect!

What is a Rotorua Maori Experience?

Rotorua maori Experience
The Haka!

Rotorua Maori Experience is an interactive lesson into the lives and culture of the Maori people set in a traditionally-built Maori village. Run by Maori people, this experience has been kept as authentic as possible to give visitors the best insight possible into New Zealand’s Maori People.

The experience is actually a tour where you’ll dive into and learn about the different aspects of Maori life including, dance, art, culture, food, war, and love. This is truly an interesting tour and the perfect insight into the Maori people of New Zealand.

Rotorua Maori Experience Location

Rotorua Maori village
The Maori village!

Rotorua is a small city located in New Zealand’s North Island in the Bay of Plenty region. The city sits on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Just outside of the city is where the Maori villages are located and Rotorua is the best place to stay to experience them.

Choosing the BEST Maori Experience in Rotorua

Learning about the Maori culture at the Rotorua Maori Experience with Tamaki
Learning about boat building and sailing to New Zealand

There are a few different Maori experiences in Rotorua to choose from. Each offers its own unique touch. Here’s a bit about all of the tours and the one I chose for a few reasons!

  • Tamaki (Te Pā Tū): From $130, lasts 3.5 hours, includes dinner and transport, and starts in the evening. Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor.
  • Mitai: From $123, lasts 3.5 hours, includes dinner and transport, and starts in the evening. Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor.
  • Whakarewarewa: From $40, lasts 2 or 3 hours, no dinner or transport, and starts during the day. Rated 4.5 on TripAdvisor.

The 3 tours above are the three most popular Maori Experiences in Rotorua and many of them are a great choice. However, when it came to picking my tour I looked at all the pros and cons and went with the Tamaki Maori Experience.

The reason?

For one, the tour included a highly reviewed traditionally cooked 3-course dinner. This was amazing and a huge part of the experience.

The second reason was that they are the most famous and first every Maori experience in New Zealand. It was started by two brothers who had a dream to share their culture with visitors.

To be honest, the Mitai Maori Experience and the Tamaki tours are very similar and both tours include the same things. The Whakarewarewa tour is the perfect tour for budget travelers as it’s much cheaper when you don’t include the dinner or transport to the village. So, the choice is yours, however, I can personally say the Tamaki Maori Experience is amazing!

Related Read: Chances are high that at some point on your visit to New Zealand you’ll be road tripping. In that case read all about how to freedom camp in New Zealand, it’s a great convenient and money saving travel hack.

About the Tamaki Maori Experience

Traditional rotorua maori experience
The offering of peace.

Before embarking on this tour, I was very unsure of what to expect and to be honest, a little nervous. However, a traditional Maori experience was at the top of my list of things to do in Rotorua – so off we went!

We had booked our Tamaki Maori Village tour and then headed to their office in Rotorua where we were driven on a bus to the village. During the bus ride, our driver taught us some Maori words and also chose a chief for our tribe (bus).

Once in the village, we witnessed a traditional way Maori tribes challenged other tribes. This can end in battle or a peace offering – luckily for us, this time was peaceful! The peace offering was actually a fern leaf that our tribe leader had to bring with him through the whole experience. This was the most traditional part of the tour and something that I’ll never forget!

Bailey plays a Maori Game at the Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua
Bailey plays a Maori game and she almost won!

Next, we were welcomed into the village to learn about the Maori way of life in small interactive classes. This included learning the Haka, traditional dance, history, and learning about the Maori face tattoos and wood carvings. This made up a large portion of the tour and was a good learning experience that involved lots of laughs between the groups.

After this, we headed off to the main hall but before we entered we got to see our traditional Hangi meal pulled from the ground. This is called the “Earth Oven.” They then explained how it works and how you can do it yourself if you’re up for it!

hangi meal
Dinner was delicious!

This was really cool to see and such a great way to cook food!

Once in the main hall, we got to see a few performances including seeing the Haka made famous by the New Zealand rugby team!

Then, it was time to eat! The meal provided was really amazing and included chicken, lamb, fish, salad, and veggies and was all finished off by an amazing dessert of Pavlova and cake.

Once dinner was over so was the tour. We headed back to the bus for what ended up being the funniest bus ride I’d ever been on – our driver was such a great guy!

Related Read: Hobbiton is one of the most internationally famous things to do in New Zealand but is Hobbiton worth it? Read my Hobbiton review!

What I thought of the Maori Experience

Rotorua maori experience
Meeting the crew

The entire Rotorua Maori experience with Tamaki Maori Village is really a great experience and I enjoyed the entire night. From the start of the night, it was really engaging and felt very authentic. The interactive learning activities got everyone involved and the village itself was a work of art.

The performances were good, the costumes were authentic and the entire village was so impressive! We consider the Rotorua Maori Experience one of the best things to do in New Zealand!

Our Recommended Maori Experience Tour

Learning the Haka at the Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua
Learning the Haka at the Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua

After joining the Tamaki Maori Village experience both Bailey and I can highly recommend them. The entire production was authentic and interactive and of good value.

All of the staff were all so proud of their own culture and it really showed in the small details and personal connections they made with us guests. I would like to leave a special mention to our bus driver “Dennis the Menace”, what a fun bus trip back to Rotorua it was!

The Tamaki Rotorua Maori Experience has been one of the highlights of my trip here so far. One of the reasons Bailey and I travel is to learn, meet, and experience other cultures. The Maori experience lived up to the hype and we are so happy to be able to support the preservation of the Maori culture – and hope we can also help you decide to join along!

You can book your evening Rotorua Maori Experience with Tamaki here!

Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand

Bailey takes a selfie with a JUCY campervan
Ready to hit the road!
Bailey stands infront of a JUCY campervan in New Zealand
JUCY is another favorite!

The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)

You can search for rental cars online here in advance to compare car models and prices.

You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!

JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.

We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! What a good deal!

You can check prices, availability and book with JUCY online here.

Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.

Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!

Thanks for reading!

On a bus!

Thanks so much for reading our guide to the Rotorua Maori Experience! We hope this guide has got you excited about your upcoming trip to Rotorua, New Zealand. If you have any other questions please leave them below in the comments section!

If you liked this blog then be sure to check out all our informative guides on our official New Zealand page or check out these related articles below!

Best day trips from Auckland

Guide to the best view of Mt Taranaki

The 15 best beaches on New Zealand’s North Island

Nina Out and About

Monday 27th of May 2019

Love the post (and thanks for the shout out). This experience was so wonderful!