Hangi Recommendation?

Apr 4th, 2004, 01:43 PM
  #1  
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Hangi Recommendation?

We're leaving for New Zealand in two weeks, and plan to attend a hangi in Rotorua.

We'd prefer a more authentic-feeling experience, which narrows our choices to Tamaki, Rotoiti, or Mai Ora. We're leaning toward Mai Ora because it is a bit less expensive.

I'm interested in hearing your impressions and recommendations. Thanks!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Apr 4th, 2004, 02:23 PM
  #2  
 
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For something approaching the more authentic I would suggest the Tamaki Brothers tour.

You bus out to a small village just South of Rotorua and have the full experience not just the meal. You also get a little history thrown in.

I have tragically seen some of the Hangi/concert efforts put on by some Rotorua hotels and it is sad to see how ropey some are. So I think for a less "plastic Tiki" experience it is better to pay the money for the higher end Tamaki tour.

Steve
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Apr 4th, 2004, 04:20 PM
  #3  
ALF
 
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I too recommend the Tamaki brothers, who take more effort toward authenticity. To be sure, it is still a bit hokey, but much better than the also-ran competitors.
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Apr 4th, 2004, 05:45 PM
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Hello Elendi,

I think to get the most of the the hangi experience depends alot on where you're from (again, as so many times on these boards), and what your travel experiences are.

I did the Tamaki tour because of all of them, it's the most popular, and touted to be the best. ALF alluded to it being a "bit hokey". I was doing "research" to recommend it (or not) to clients. I found it to be VERY touristy and tacky. Before I get flamed to a crisp, THIS IS MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION.

This is not to say I wouldn't recommend it to clients, and have done so. It just depends on the client and their level of travel experience.

So, I'm going to give you my impressions of the tour and you can make up your own mind.

You board a motorcoach and the driver/guide/commentary goes something like this: "like the Maori, we are going to elect a chief to navigate our wakka (canoe/motorcoach) A show of many hands all wanting to be "chief". Then they instruct you to "pretend" to paddle the canoe. Then some songs and commentary. Now you reach the village where you are given strict instructions to be very serious...no laughing, no snickering, etc. (ok, frankly, that's enuf to set me off right there).

You then are taken thru the "village" which is a representation of what life was like in an actual Maori village. Actually, this was the most interesting part for me, and not enough time spent there in my opinion.

Then, the "chief" comes out and meets YOUR chief (the one you elected on the bus). Lots of posturing, tongues out, testosterone stances and video camera, etc going like mad.

Next, into a hall where you see a variety of tribal dances. And then onto the buffet, which is in a fairly dismal VFW type hall with fairly bad food. (if you've ever been to a touristy Hawaiian luau, it's about the same).

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Apr 4th, 2004, 06:21 PM
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As Melodie has noted there is a certain level of tackiness with these tours.

This is a tragedy really as in reality a genuine greeting onto a marae is a very moving experience. The oportunity to experience one being VERY limited to a visitor unless they were to be formally invited or were here for a state visit or trade trip as an example. The point being of course that genuine Maori life is not and should not be set up as a tourist attraction.

I remember being in a hotel in Rotorua (Rydges I think) and the "Cultural Night" started. Frankly it was embarrassing. Plastic "grass" skirts, a total confusion between Maori and other South Pacific cultures and all the time people moving around getting food & drinks etc. Reminded me of one of those tacky lounge bar scenes from a bad Vegas movie.

As someone who was raised in the Eastern Bay of Plenty in a community which was roughly 50% Maori 50% non Maori (I am part of the later) I knew what can be presented as genuine. What I was watching was not.

I know that the Tamaki tours presentation can be a bit hokey in parts. The paddling the Waka thing is a bit silly IMHO. However you will probably find this is as good as it gets.

Melodie, shame about the food experience when you went, bad luck there. Hangi can sometimes be a bit dissapointing but sometimes very good. I've had plenty of both. (I've even helped put a few Hangi down myself though I would be far from expert on this).

Whatever tour you take I hope you enjoy it. There are plenty of other area in which you can get an appreciation of Maori culture, the carving centre by Whakarewarewa village being one.

Steve
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Apr 5th, 2004, 12:00 AM
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I'd also recommend (for your second night dinner) going to the Skyline restaurant at Rotorua. From memory, the price was about $45 NZ each for an excellent buffet dinner, the gondala ride to the restaurant (great views) and tickets to do the gondala ride again the next day to see the view in daylight.
marg is offline  
Apr 5th, 2004, 12:48 PM
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Wow, you all are great! Thanks so much for the quick responses. Melodie, we're from New Mexico.

Steve wrote:

>>Whatever tour you take I hope you enjoy it. There are plenty of other area in which you can get an appreciation of Maori culture, the carving centre by Whakarewarewa village being one.<<

The Mai Ora concert and hangi is at Whakarewarewa Village. I do realize we're not going to get a wholly authentic cultural experience, but I figure this will beat a hotel hangi by a long shot!

I'm just so thrilled to be going to NZ that I'm sure we'll enjoy everything we do. We've never been overseas, and though I've wanted to visit New Zealand for years, we wouldn't be doing it now if we hadn't won a trip. So it's all going to be great!

In Jesus,
Lee Ann
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Apr 5th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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Lee Ann

You hit the nail on the head. A Hangi night away from your hotel will most probably be a better option.

Ia m sure you will enjoy your stay in Rotorua whatever you do. Don't forget to give yourself some time to relax and have a good soak in one of the hotpools.

Steve
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Apr 6th, 2004, 05:42 PM
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Steve and Elendi,

wow...I'm grateful that I didn't have to put on that asbestos underwear!
I even feel validated that Steve, as a Kiwi,comments mirror mine.

A friend of mine operated the Punga Cove Resort for a time, and she went to an "authentic" hangi with locals which involved alot of booze, so she couldn't really comment on the quality of the "authentic" food!

Steve mentions a good soak, and I'd recommend the Polynesian spa...very nice operation with a variety of pools and massage treatments to choose from.

I know you will enjoy your trip to New Zealand and wish you the best!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
May 31st, 2004, 07:44 PM
  #10  
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I posted a lengthy trip report in a separate thread, but realized I should probably comment on our hangi experience.

We chose the Mai Ora concert and hangi at Te Whakarewarewa, just outside Rotorua. A bus picked us up at our hotel and drove us there.

We had about 20 minutes to walk around the village and look in the gift shop before the concert; it would have been nice to spend more time there. They told us we could come back the next day for the full tour at a discount, but we were headed to Tongariro the next day so didn't take that option.

There were two groups there that evening, a large group from Australia and a smaller group of unaffiliated tourists. Our guide appointed a chief for our group; he was from France and didn't speak much English. Another man in his group translated for him.

We went through the challenge and welcome, then went into the whare for the formal welcome. The group of five men and six women sang, danced, and explained the significance of what we were seeing and what the parts of the whare meant. We really enjoyed the concert. The only silly "touristy" part was when we all had to attempt the Hokey Pokey in Maori. <g>

Dinner was fabulous; it was the best meal we had while there. Sweet potato soup, seafood chowder, really fresh oysters and prawns, mussels, salad, lamb, venison, chicken, an assortment of steamed veggies, a yummy dessert buffet (the only place we saw pavlova offered), and a really nice cheese tray.

After dinner, before we had to get back on the bus, they lit up their geothermal area for us. It was really spectacular with all the steam and the geysers erupting.

We had a great time and would recommend Mai Ora!

Lee Ann
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Jun 2nd, 2004, 06:36 PM
  #11  
 
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Several of the guidebooks mention Rotoiti as the "most authentic." Has anyone gone to this one?
jag1jag1 is offline  
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