On arrival at Whakatane you will depart on the Moutohorā Cat which will ferry you to Moutohora (Whale Island) situated 20 minutes off the coast. Moutohorā (Whale Island) - a dormant volcano five nautical miles off Whakatane - is a wildlife sanctuary, providing refuge for endangered birds (including kiwi) and plants under the protection of the Department of Conservation (DOC). The island is a presently rodent and predator free and to keep it this way a strict bio-security regime is in place for the protection of this special nature reserve and access is highly restricted with only a small number of visitors allowed to visit this stunning island.
Landing on Whale Island and disembarking the Moutohorā Cat is as easy as walking down some stairs and stepping ashore. Once on the island your guides will lead you on nature walk to various points of interest around the island, including a climb to the saddle. Since becoming pest free, bird life on Moutohorā has flourished and there is a chance to see a number of different species, many of which are endangered or seldom seen on the New Zealand mainland. Your time on the island will also encompass a visit to a geothermal area and for those that who are keen , there is a chance for a swim at Sulphur Bay, Moutohorā’s very own hot water beach. After re-boarding the Moutohorā Cat you will visit the NZ fur seal colony around the island before heading back to Whakatane wharf.
On arrival at the wharf we will walk over the road for your very special, authentic Maori cultural experience and enter the marae (meeting area) visitor complex.
Your journey at Mataatua (meaning ‘The Face of God’) will ignite the soul within as you discover the extraordinary story of the house that has travelled through time. Maori believe Mataatua is a living and breathing being and the experience you will have provides an opportunity for intimate engagement with the people of Ngati Awa. Your authentic Maori Marae Experience, with the focus of Mataatua, the House that came home, a meeting house built in 1875, resplendent with a rich array of magnificent carvings, will start with a ‘karakia’ (prayer). This will be followed by an introduction and engagement with hosts in the centre to learn their stories from the “tree of knowledge”.
On moving outside you will be called onto the marae with a ‘Karanga’ – a ceremonial call by a wahine (woman) of the local iwi (tribe) Ngati Awa. After accepting the challenge from a Maori warrior you will enter the wharenui (meeting house) Mataatua, the living embodiment of the Ngati Awa ancestors. After a welcome speech from a Ngati Awa Kamatua (respected leader) and a reply from a representative of the guests, you will experience a Hongi – a greeting and pressing of noses. The hongi shares the breath of life through which you become one.
Your Kaumatua will share the stories of his ancestors and you will learn about the fascinating and powerful story of the travels and restoration of this significant meeting house. Be enthralled as the carvings and legends of Ngati Awa are brought to life in a contemporary way. After this moving ceremony you will be invited to join your hosts for a ‘hangi’ cooked lunch and refreshments. Hangi food is a traditional Maori cuisine and today there are various methods to cooking a hangi. Mataatua currently provides a steamer cooked hangi with the infused flavours of mother earth.
After a relaxing hangi lunch, we will depart Mataatua for a scenic drive back to Tauranga or Rotorua in the late afternoon.
Suitable for pre and post ship cruise.
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