Maori cultural centre Te Puia expands into ecotourism

ROTORUA’S Te Puia, New Zealand’s living Maori culture centre, is developing a site masterplan to add new facilities and expand its offering beyond culture.

CEO Tim Cossar said the arts, craft, culture and geothermal activity attraction will introduce ecotourism where visitors can participate in interactive activities around 500 volcanic pools and 65 geysers, including the world famous Pohutu geyser which erupts regularly and reaches 30m skywards.

To attract mid- and high-end Asian incentive groups, the centre is building a permanent marquee with kitchen and toilet facilities near the geyser that can cater for up to 200 guests for a sit-down dinner.

Apart from having its first Chinese-speaking Maori guide, footbaths and mini-spas will also be introduced.

“We are about 18 months away from introducing the new facilities,” said Cossar, adding that Asian incentives are becoming an increasingly important part of Te Puia’s business.

“We want incentive groups to hold functions here and gain a deeper experience,” he said.

Visitors can now go on a nightly tour of Te Puia’s weaving and carving schools before experiencing te po, a traditional Maori welcome and cultural performance, followed by a hangi (earth oven) dinner. The dining room seats 120 while an adjacent space can accommodate another 80.

The evening ends with a viewing of the lighted Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley.

Rotorua is about two hours’ drive from Auckland.

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