Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia)
At Te Puia, masters teach students from around the country how to carve from wood, stone, and bone; how to weave; and how to dotā moko (traditional Maori tattoo). Also here, local Maori share their taonga (cultural treasures) with the world, and visitors can enter beautifully carved buildings and experience Pikirangi, a model village displaying how Maori lived centuries ago. Surrounding the site is the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, home to mud pools and geysers, including the reliable Pohutu Geyser.
You can explore independently or book a guided tour. The day tour (Te Rā) walks you through the institute where students are at work, introduces you to the endangered native kiwi that are bred and protected here, and visits the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. On the night tour (Te Pō), enjoy a meal cooked in a traditional hangi (underground oven), sail around Te Whakarewarewa, and thrill at a powerful performance of Maori dance, song, and more.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Maori Arts and Culture Institute is a must for history and culture enthusiasts, and all first-time visitors to the Rotorua area.
Many of Te Whakarewarewa’s geothermal highlights are still active, so wear suitable, closed footwear.
The Pōhutu Café serves authentic steam box hangi, cooked on heated rocks in an underground oven.
Much of Te Puia is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, but some of the steeper and uncobbled paths are not.
How to Get There
The institute is located on Hemo Road on the southern outskirts of Rotorua. If you’re driving from Rotorua’s city center, simply follow Fenton Road south onto State Highway 30. Alternatively, catch a public bus from Rotorua’s Central Mall, or take the number 11 bus from the Fenton Road stop and get off at Hemo Road.
When to Get There
Te Puia is open almost every day of the year, from 8am to 5pm in winter and 8am to 6pm in summer. To maximize your visit, book a combined Te Rā/Te Pō Experience, which starts at 4:30pm daily and includes all of the highlights typically available in both tours.
Tā Moko at Te Puia
Te Puia has a specialist Tā Moko Studio, where visitors can book a session to receive a traditional Maori tattoo from one of the studio’s skilled artists. Your artist will listen to your korero (narrative) and design the tā moko that best represents your story, and then tattoo it onto your body. You can receive tā moko even if you’re not from a Maori iwi (tribe).