Ohinemutu Maori Village

Lake Rotorua, New Zealand

A recurring theme in my travels is how I stumble across really interesting sites since I don't overly research the new places I visit. The Ohinemutu Maori Village is another example of this occurring.

I had placed Rotorua on my 'places to visit in New Zealand' itinerary as I wanted to experience the geothermal pools. Did that, and the following morning went looking for a cafe to have breakfast. The lakeside looked enticing so I stopped at a cafe and then looked down at the lake and saw this. It all looked so fascinating and lovely that I went down to explore. I've since researched the location. It's called Ohinemutu and it's a 'living Maori' village. So a real community rather than a location that is a Maori village museum.

The location of Ohinemutu was chosen by the Ngāti Whakaue tribe for its lakeside location and the geothermal activity which provided heat for cooking, bathing and heating. In the early 1870s the settlement at Ohinemutu became a major centre for the Rotorua area for Europeans as they travelled through.

This rather stunning building is St. Faith's church, unfortunately as I was there early in the morning it was shut so I couldn't go inside. Having read up on it, the interior sounds beautiful with Maori artwork and a window etched with an image of Jesus wearing a Maori cloak. The church was built in 1914.

Behind St. Faith's church is the cemetery, the graves are raised above the ground because of the geothermal activity. They are the graves of the 28th (Maori) Battalion from the Second World War. (Research again!)

The geothermal activity is quite apparent in the village, the rocks here surround a pool. There are other places where steam rises from the ground and there's the smell of sulphur in the air.

The village is quite open and easy to walk around, there are guided tours and whilst I was there I noticed a group with a local tour guide being shown around. There's also a handicrafts centre, and opposite St. Faith's church is the beautifully adorned Tamatekapua Meeting house, but during the time I was there it was having restoration work done on the outside so most of it was behind scaffolding. (Ah the difficulties of being a tourist, always the scaffolding being around parts of some major building you want to see in all its glory!)

Ohinemutu was a great find for me, I only had a quick look around as hunger (still needed that breakfast!) and impending rain drove me to the shelter of a local cafe. Well worth adding to any itinerary for a visit to Rotorua.