Where do you go to actually see what actually culture depicts? Take a trip to New Zealand and head to their Tamaki Maori Village Evening Cultural Experience. We had the luxury of going there on our honeymoon, and it has to be one of the best decisions we made! We decided to go there one of the evenings of our much loved New Zealand honeymoon. Just the experience can blow you over, as it did to us.
It is New Zealand’s Best Award Winning Cultural Experience and according to them they have a 3 hours 30 minutes Maori Cultural Experience, and clearly, they do not disappoint. What’s more, they have a range of menus that include vegetarian and gluten-free food.
Situated in the Rotorua’s ancient Tawa forest, it is considered the most award-winning Maori cultural attraction in New Zealand. We started on our exploration in a coach, and just the journey can be considered breathtaking just for how beautiful the sights are. Additionally, our driver also entertained us by telling us very interesting stories. As is the tradition we had to nominate one of the people in the coach to be the Maoridom, considered the chief that represents our group on their soil.
We entered the outskirts of the village when the coach stopped, and we were welcomed with a formal ceremony, and a performance that they call ‘haka’. This beautiful performance is considered a traditional war dance that is done as a show of strength and power. The welcome call, the sights, the dance were all such a pleasure to experience. It was completely removed from any experience we have experienced before.
Once the initial welcome was done, we strolled through the beautiful village and saw all the workmen and women who were showcasing their skills in weaving, carving, and tattooing. We had the option of visiting traditional houses where the locals still continue to teach their own how to do the ‘haka’ and other warrior training. I and my beautiful wife left no stone unturned to get a taste of it, and they were grateful enough to teach us a thing or two of their beautiful tradition.
The walk towards the hangi meal was not only mesmerizing, but it was also even a reminder of the centuries of heritage that lives on in different parts of the world. The hangi is a special traditional New Zealand method of cooking food. They heat rocks that are buried in a pit oven. This includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. However, it is important to remember that if you want vegetarian or gluten-free food, you should try and tell the team while booking the trip itself. They were kind enough to make the exceptions for us.
After taking a stroll back in time, we were glad to smell the deliciousness of cuisine that we had never tasted before. My wife and me being foodies, we were certainly looking forward to the experience. The cultural festivities started and made us feel special because they took the time to put out a special performance just for us that included song and dance that their tradition is famous for.
Finally, the food arrived. It was just as the aroma promised. Different, intriguing, interesting and nothing like anything we have eaten before. As the journey started to come to an end, and the village was winding down, I and my wife finally strolled back with the rest of the group towards the coach. On our walk back, we marveled at what we witnessed for the few hours.
As my wife and I embark on a new beautiful journey and start a new life, we were so thrilled and humbled to see how traditions are still maintained and nurtured. We found a new love for traditions and culture and realized how little we know about our own even, back home in India. Certainly, every culture has its own beauty and we for one promised ourselves we will try and gather as much experience as we can on every place we go to.