The home of one of New Zealand’s longest standing tourism attractions, Te Puia, is looking forward to sharing the beauty of nature and Māori culture with kiwi kids these school holidays.
Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute is the only place in Aotearoa where it’s possible to combine seeing an active geyser and geothermal valley, with the opportunity to spot a real kiwi, visit to a marae and watch traditional Māori carving and weaving – all in one place.
And to give tamariki a truly hands-on Māori cultural experience, Te Puia have developed a free Kids Zone in its marae grounds, where they can try tā moko stencils, poi, haka, stick games and porotiti (a spinning musical instrument).
Tamariki are also encouraged to take up Te Puia’s ‘Nature by Numbers’ challenge, which leads them through the Kiwi Conservation Centre and Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley. They even take home a small prize when they submit their entry form.
Chief executive Tim Cossar says Te Puia has made a number of changes to its offering to allow Kiwis to delve deeper into their heritage, and to take the time to experience what is a remarkable and very unique “backyard”.
“We’ve always been a must-do for international tourists and have a 170-year legacy of hosting manuhiri at Te Whakarewarewa Valley, but many New Zealanders haven’t been here. They haven’t seen the world-famous Pōhutu geyser erupt, they haven’t seen a real kiwi, they haven’t seen a totara carved before their eyes and they haven’t eaten hangi, let alone experience these all in one visit.
“Many kiwis simply aren’t aware of the magic right at their back door – so nau mai, haere mai, welcome!”
Fifth-generation guide, Justin Te Hau is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to share the stories of his people and their longstanding connection to the geothermal landscape with Kiwis from across Aotearoa.
“The feedback from New Zealanders has been extremely positive. They understand that deep connection we have to our culture and they might have visited as children, but they haven’t been as adults.
“Now they are returning with their own tamariki and mokopuna and are blown away by the new developments and the way we are doing things now.
“We aren’t ‘just’ a geyser and a mudpool, we now have a state of the art Kiwi Conservation Centre, a stunning new restaurant and the best learning precinct for our carvers and weavers.”
Catering to its Kiwi manuhiri, Te Puia’s two-hour guided tour now ends with pudding, steamed to perfection in the ground and heated by the geothermal activity of Te Whakarewarewa Valley. Guided tours leave at 10.30am and 1.30pm.
Extending operations to five days per week over the school holidays, Te Puia will be open Thursday until Monday, from 10am until 4pm (only closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). The ‘waka’ shuttle, always a hit with Te Puia’s younger manuhiri, will also be operating to ferry guests to and from the thermal valley.
Day passes have been discounted 25% to $45 for an adult, while any paying adult can take up to two children under the age of 15 free of charge. Additional children are $15 each. The day pass allows visitors to take their time exploring Te Whakarewarewa Valley, Kiwi Conservation Centre, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and to visit the onsite restaurant, Pātaka Kai.
Pātaka Kai is the only restaurant in the world that overlooks an active geyser. It serves drinks and café cabinet food from 10am until 4pm every day, and its famous brunch is available from 9am until 2pm on Sundays. A hāngi lunch buffet is served from 11am until 2pm on Fridays, with a grazing dinner from 5.30pm on Fridays.