The last stop on our New Zealand road trip was Christchurch. We only had a day here before having to catch our flight to Melbourne, so we decided to make the most of it by going to the Ko Tane Maori Experience at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.
Last time I was in New Zealand I went to a Maori Experience in Rotorua . As Rotorua is particularly popular for it’s rich Maori culture, I was really interested to see if there would be a substantial difference between the two experiences both in quality and cultural variations between the tribes.
After doing some online research we found the tickets to the experience at Book me for a cheaper price - $75 per person. (Worth checking out this site to purchase tickets for activities as you can often find them at a discounted price). The tickets included access to the wildlife park, the Maori experience and a buffet dinner.
We spent that morning walking around the town centre and browsing through the cute and quirky little shops housed in the cool & coloured containers of the Re:Start centre. At around 4:30pm we made our way to the wildlife park where we got to walk around the grounds and see the animals before the start of the experience at 5pm, when the group was greeted by the guide who explained how the evening was going to plan out.
Similarly to the other Maori Experience I had previously attended, the group was asked to select a leader who would act as the ‘Chief’ and would partake in the Maori welcome ceremony. This involves the Maori chief performing a series of aggressive movements and sounds to scare the 'intruders' away, before ascertaining if they pose a threat or not. Once the chiefs greet each other in peace, the whole group is welcomed into the Maori village.
SHOW & GAMES
Once inside the village, we were shown through to the performance area where the Maori people showcased some of their typical songs, dances and games…at one stage even the audience got to participate, so it was my turn to showcase my incredibly bad hand to eye coordination when trying to learn the Poi. Poi is the name given to the the balls on strings pictured on the right as well as the name given to the actual performing art in which the object is used.
Performing the Poi involves swinging the balls on strings in a series of coordinated moves following the rhythm of a song.
Last but certainly not least, we were taken to the dining room where the buffet dinner was served. I was so incredibly surprised by how delicious the food was, every single course was exquisite.
First we were given the choice of two kinds of soup - fish chowder or a sweet potato soup, then came the toasted breads and dips and after that a buffet selection which included vegetables and meats cooked in a hangi - the typical Maori method of cooking which uses hot coals to heat up the food.
Finally to end the meal in complete indulgence, dessert was a delicious pavlova served with ice cream and fruit. In all honesty the food was so plentiful and full of flavour that I would have paid the $75 for it alone!
BONUS: Not only did I get to enjoy a delicious dinner myself, but I also got to feed the cute little Bambies afterwards too! Soo adorable and the perfect end to the perfect evening <3
We really enjoyed this experience and thought it well worth the money (especially having got it at a discount!) I thought it was just as good (the food in fact better) as the one I tried in Rotorua, so if you are visiting both Islands in New Zealand don’t be hesitant to opt for experiencing Maori culture in Christchurch if it better fits in with your plans.
Next we fly back to Australia to visit the most liveable and lovable city in the world - Melbourne!