The Living Maori Village of Whakarewarewa in New Zealand near Rotorua sits on a geothermal site filled with mud pots, geysers, and boiling water. The people living in the village harvest the heat as they have since first occupying this space in 1325. The true name of “Whaka” is the second longest place name in New Zealand. For the ease of use, it is often shortened with a pronunciation of “waka” rather than the Maori pronunciation, which sounds too close to an English swear word.
The Guided Tour
The guided tour helps to explain what you’re seeing in the village. From the steam box and how it’s used to the cultural differences of public baths, you get an inside glimpse at how people live in Whaka today. There is a cultural performance that provides a glimpse at Maori songs, legends and the Haka, as well.
The tour addresses how the geothermal features of the land affect the people living there. The benefits include easy cooking, closer ties to the community, and a great place to relax. However, there are times when the ground opens up a new vent and steam is released into someone’s home. The resulting instability and danger mean the person has to leave the house, and there may not be a replacement home in the valley.
One of the features of the Living Maori Village is the use of the boiling water to prepare ears of corn. They can also provide you with a hangi meal cooked geothermally or you can get one of their famous hangi pies. The hangi pie is a coming together of cultures. It tastes great and offers a glimpse of how one people may influence another to create something new.
If you plan on coming to Whakarewarewa, it’s important to book ahead of time, so that they can prepare your food. Otherwise, you may find on busy days, they’ve run out of their unique items. How often do you get a chance to eat corn on the cob cooked in a geothermal pool? Rotorua, New Zealand may be the best place to do it.