This was the last part of a day-long cruise ship excursion for us through Hinterland Tours, having visited a kiwi farm and the Agrodome earlier, so we saw the native fruit in one area, native animals in another, and here we saw the native people living in an area that allows them (and allowed their forefathers) to take advantage of the properties of their native land.
We arrived just before the cultural show was to start, so we had little introduction to the village prior to that, and we got poor seats for the show itself (the seating is pretty much all one level, so if you're in the back or off to the side, you're going to get a view (and photos!) of the heads of the people in front of you). The Maori haka is famous, and it was great to see it in person here, as a part of the show, along with some less aggressive song and dance numbers (the haka being the favorite). What was interesting was seeing the performers "out of character" - driving cars, etc. before and after the show. Because this is where they live, and they live in the present day, you can't help but see their contemporary selves off-stage in contrast to the traditional roles they played onstage.
While the show is the big draw here, there is a lot to see in the village - cemetery, buildings, and common cooking areas from years past that are still in use. Our timing was off, so there wasn't any ready when we were there, but they use the geothermal features to steam corn and sell it to visitors. It's easy to see why people might have settled here, having warm (hot!) water so readily available. On the other hand, there are houses now uninhabitable where the ground underneath became unstable as a result of those same geothermal features.
I know I did extensive research into which place to visit while we were in the area, and opinions on the geothermal features, the way the properties are run, and the shows at each varied, at the end of the day we were a part of a group tour, so we didn't get to decide which site to visit. We saw only this one, and while others might have offered different things, perhaps better (perhaps not), we came away from here feeling that we'd gotten the sense of the area and its people that we'd hoped to.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.