7-day itinerary: the best Māori culture experiences in the North Island
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12 Nov 18


When you have one week to immerse yourself in authentic Māori culture and experiences, this is the perfect 7-day itinerary for discovering on the North Island. Beginning and ending in Auckland, you will explore ancient forests and glowworm caves, from 4wd luxury tours to waka sailing, this trip highlights NZ must-do’s and has plenty of magic in the mix.


Day 1

Kawiti Glowworm Caves and Waitangi Treaty Grounds


Depart Auckland and head North to these must-do experiences that will captivate you in Māori history and culture in the most beautiful natural settings.

Established in the 1950’s by Te Tawai Kawiti, great grandson of the famous Māori Chief Kawiti, the Kawiti Glowworm Cavesare located right in the heart of Waiomio Valley and are home to thousands of luminous glowworms, breath-taking rock formations and lush green rainforest. A fantastic, fascinating start to your week long journey.

Regarded as New Zealand’s most historic site, you will step back in time at the award-winning Waitangi Treaty Grounds and discover the birthplace of this nation. With spectacular views over the Bay of Islands, you can enjoy an authentic Māori hāngi (a traditional Māori earth oven), concert and spectacular cultural performances.


Overnight accommodation in Waitangi


Day 2 

Footprints Waipoua and visit to Tāne Mahuta, Lord of the Forest


Begin your second day surrounded by the gentle giants of the ancient Waipoua Forest. Amidst towering trees and rare birds, embark on interactive and engaging eco tours with Footprints Waipoua that range from 40 minutes to 4 hours. Local guides will lead you on an intimate encounter to learn how the oldest and largest kauri trees in the world, including NZ’s largest known living kauri tree Tāne Mahuta, the Lord of the Forest, are intertwined with the lives of local Maori and the important role they play in the eco-system of the Waipoua forest.


From here, it’s a six hour drive to the harbour side city of Tauranga. Upon arrival, you can stretch your legs, take in the fresh air, the views and enjoy a self-guided, fully immersive cultural tour with Arataki Cultural Trails. In your own time and at your own pace you can unlock the rich stories of culturally significant sites in Tauranga using Arataki’s mobile app.

Overnight accommodation in Tauranga


Day 3 

Kahukiwi Experiences and Mitai Māori Village


Enjoy a leisurely morning then a short 1-hr drive down to Rotorua. Arrive to the shores of Lake Rotoiti and take part in an authentic cultural journey like no other with Kahukiwi Experiences.This iwi-led venture offers a 3-hour fully guided cultural tour of a never-before-seen window into landscapes, ways of life and heritage of the whanaū (family) from Te Takinga Marae, Ngāti Pikiao. Kahukiwi’s passionate local guides are leaders in cultural storytelling and will weave powerful narratives of years gone by and share with you the history, stories and spiritual essence of the Ngāti Pikiao tribe.


Top of your day with an evening at Mitai Māori Village. Enjoy an unforgettable night filled with powerful, captivating cultural performances including a spine tingling Haka Māori war dance. From a shared Hangi meal, guided bush walks to view glow worms and warriors travelling down a traditional waka canoe, this is another must-do in Rotorua.

Overnight accommodation in Rotorua


Day 4

Te Puia and Polynesian Spa


When in Rotorua, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the vast number of stunning volcanic wonders abound. Te Puia’s famous Pōhutu geyser is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. It is also home to the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute which was established in the 1920s to foster all aspects of Māori culture.


A good place to unwind and rejuvenate is at the iconic, world-renowned Polynesian Spa- a must-do for hot mineral bathing and spa therapies. Established in 1972, you can bathe in communal or private pools and also learn about the Māori legends behind the mineral rich waters, known as Waiariki, meaning water of the gods.

Overnight accommodation in Rotorua


Day 5

Mount Tarawera and white water rafting


Kick start your day with a half-day guided walking tour of Mount Tarawera with Kaitiaki Adventures. Passionate local guides will take you through the unique landscape of this volcanic crater infamous for its eruption on June 10 1886. For a cultural adventure on water, you can top off Kaitiaki’s guided tour of Mount Tarawera with a white water rafting combo along the mighty Kaituna river where you can raft the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall.


Overnight accommodation in Rotorua


Day 6

The Buried Village and Māori Rock Carvings


Begin day six with a visit to the Buried Village of Lake Tarawera – New Zealand’s most visited archaeological site, where stories of the 1886 Mt Tarawera Eruption come to life.


Then enjoy a scenic drive to Lake Taupo where you can admire the awe-inspiring Māori Rock Carvings which tower 14-metres above the water on Mine Bay. You can kayak, sail, cruise or even take a scenic flight to view this mesmerising work of art.

Overnight accommodation in Lake Taupo


Day 6

Lake Taupo and waka sailing


Enjoy a morning stroll along Lake Taupo before driving back up to Auckland.


When you arrive at the city of sails, what better way is there to explore it than on water? You can sail around Waitemata Harbour with an expert crew of Māorisailors on board a waka – a traditional double-hulled canoe.

And if you’re visiting in March, then you may be lucky enough to attend the annual Pasifika Festivalat Western Springs Park where you can experience the sights, sounds and flavours of the Pacific through world-class music and dance performances.

Overnight accommodation in Auckland


Day 7

Waiheke Island


Spend your final day on beautiful Waiheke Island. Explore this island paradise with Hike Bike Ako tours which offers an intimate walking and cycling experience complete with wine tasting, coffee and cake!