I am wondering if it's possible to travel to New Zealand as a tourist and immerse in Maori culture.

By this I mean homestay in a traditional Maori area where people speak the language on an everyday basis and generally live to some degree or other in a traditional way.

  • Most of the cultural immersion, IMHO is fake and tailored for tourists. Unless you are one of them, you'll never get to see it in its full glory.
    – edocetirwi
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 22:43

5 Answers 5


My initial thought was along the lines of 'but Maori are just part of the community' - but while that's true, there are still some options that are actually pretty awesome. And to time with the Rugby World Cup, Qualmark now has a Marae Stay Experience rating - maraes being traditional community ancestral house or meeting venue.

Example of a marae or meeting house

There are some good options out there, and I'll list a couple of them now:

  • Ngati Whare marae retreats - two marae on site, where you get two nights stay (at least), cultural experiences, guided tours of the valley and surrounding forest, and an opportunity to see some of their arts and culture.

  • Auckland Maori Culture Tours - probably touristy, but the contents look like you really get the complete experience. From the initial Hongi (nose touch), you'll learn some language, go to a great marae, sleep over in a traditional meeting house (optional, you can stay elsewhere for extra, but why would you!), great Maori food - and importantly, you'll share in making a Hangi - the traditional earth oven meal (has to be seen and tasted to appreciate!), learn about the Haka and try some of the traditional arts - weaving, carving, as well as learn about the history and culture.

If I were a tourist in NZ, the latter one really would cover everything, although as a warning - like so many things in this vein, it's probably a little touristy.

Of course, the other option is to try couchsurfing and see if you can find a homestay on that! However it'd be more likely to be modern rather than 'traditional' culture, of course.

  • 3
    Ideally I'd like to stay somewhere not touristy for a couple of months and learn the language a bit more than just "kia ora". But I don't have much idea if anything exists. I'm going to ask the same question about Australia now since it's so specialized most Aussies would have no idea... Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 13:01

A tiny village on the central east coast of the north island is beginning to put together a native culture program, and while it is not really off the ground just yet, you could be one of the first to go and live with the Maori people of Porangahau and further this project by showing that there is interest. I will send your information to "Doc" whom I just met on a trip to Porangahau. I am working on a native culture project currently in Fiji, so we are trying to help each other further these programs. Look for answers here in the next few days, if Doc says it is OK, I will post his contact details here.

  • 1
    Any developments on this?
    – user82
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 2:54

There is also the Tamaki experences Run by two of the Tamaki brothers. (Not their brother Bishop Brian Tamaki of Destiny Church) I went to the one in Christchurch at Ferrymead historic park it is very touristy apparently the one in Rotoura is less so. They also offer a (two/three) part interactive performance spread across their sites chronicling the family tree of a fictional chief.

Personally if you want to do it on the cheap head down to the grey river (South Island) or the Waikato river (North Island) during whitebait season. Find a pub near by and just chat with the old fellers when they take a break. For the price of a jug you'll probably get a good chat and maybe a free feed.


I am wondering if it's possible to travel to New Zealand as a tourist and immerse in Maori culture.

Yes. definitely. You may get something closer to what you see in the film "Whale Rider" than the 19th century images, but there are some "exceedingly hard core enclaves of Maoridom" that make substantial efforts to preserve the language and the culture. If you have the right attitude (as I'm sure you do have from what I've seen of yours so far) then you'll be able to find something which gets past the tourist level visits.

An area which so far probably tends not to feature on tourist level traipses is the Tuhoe area in the Ureweras. THese people have protested, promoted and defended their 'real Maoriness' in recent times with much collective national angst along the way, charges of terrorism (all dropped) armed offenders major activity (aka NZ version of SWAT teams) and more. And as a result we have probably all moved forwards quite a lot, not without some pain all round. I suspect that by the time you get here, looking up "Tuhoe" is liable to be a good start.

Tuhoe Maori Ureweras - images - you'll not be seeing any of the men in black balaclavas there that appear in some of these photos.

enter image description here



I think you'd be hard pressed to find a Marae with Maori living in the traditional way they would have before European settlers arrived, however Google provides plenty of results of Maraes offering accommodation up and down NZ.

You may or may not get the traditional cultural experience you are looking for, but no doubt you will meet some friendly characters and eat some good kai. Its still a side of NZ most tourists (and for a matter of fact most townies) won't have experienced.

  • It doesn't have to be pre-European traditional. I'm happy with whatever modern Maori themselves would consider to be traditional. Something like self determination and preserving culture. Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 7:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .