Maori Carvings near Lake Taupo

Maori Carvings near Lake Taupo

Maori Carvings near Lake TaupoThe Maori Carvings near lake Taupo (I say near, they are actually on the lake in Mine Bay!) are a cool thing to see while you are in the area. We stayed at Taupo after our amaaaazing hike along the Tongariro Crossing. We’d had a fun evening with plenty of wine; So we fancied doing something relaxing (and not too energetic) before we drove on to our next destination. Google insisted that these Maori Carvings were a must see. And we both liked the idea of a boat trip, so we popped into the tourist information booth in Taupo and booked some tickets.

How to reach the Marori Carvings near Lake Taupo:

The carvings are only view-able on the water, so if you’d like to see then, you need to take some sort of boat trip!

  • You can take a mini “cruise” from the pier in Taupo. All the boats leave from the same place. You can buy tickets on the docks or from the tourist information center. We were given a bit of a discount at the tourist information center, so if you can, go there!
  • If you’re going by boat, there are still lots of options! You can take a sailing boat, or if that is full, there are normal cruises and one in a cool replica steam boat. We liked the idea of sailing, but there was no space left, so we nabbed the last two seats on the steam boat. These are the sweeties we went with.
  • You can go on a kayaking tour and paddle over to see the carvings! Mr A is probably glad I didn’t see that earlier or our morning would have been more energetic(!) It is about double the price of a boat tour though!
  • It is possible to charter a fishing boat to catch rainbow trout in the lake. Maybe you could request a fishing trip in view of the carvings!?
  • If you’re feeling spendy, you can even take a mini flight to see the carvings!

The boat ride:

Mine Bay is a pretty long distance from Taupo (just in case you’re planning to kayak!) So we had almost an hour’s journey looking at the lake. We didn’t chose the best weather for our excursion! It was misty and slightly rainy so we couldn’t see over to the mountains at Tongariro. However the Ernest Kemp staff fed us tea and biscuits, and the driver gave interesting snip-bits of history to keep the journey interesting.

In what seemed like no time at all, we were treated to this view:

The Main Maori Carving of Ngatoroirangi:

The face is a depiction of Ngatoroirangi, a Maori navigator who guided his people to the Taupo area one thousand years ago. Just before we arrived, the boat driver confessed that these carvings were not actually ancient! They were completed in the 1970s! The carver, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell had just finished his Maori training when he decided to do this carving. He was not paid for it, but local people donated money to build a stand for them to use while they carved. Matahi and three other artists took four summers to complete the carvings.

Ancestors and Guardians:

To the left of the main massive carving there are smaller sculptures representing Maori ancestors and guardians. The artists used maori techniques, but they included some western, celtic elements as a nod to the diversity of modern New Zealand. I think the driver said the celtic designs were a mermaid and the north wind. You can read a bit more about the meaning behind the carvings here.

We had a pretty stunning view, even on a grey, overcast day. You can see that the water of lake Taupo is a beautiful blue. It must be even nicer when the sun is shining!

Right after our boat had pulled back from the carvings, one of the sailing boats floated past so their group could take some close up shots. You can see the area covered in the smaller carvings to the left of the main depiction of Ngatoroirangi. Unfortunately, you can sort of see the water change colour between these two photos as the rain clouds drew in!

Our journey back to Taupo was a little soggy! Marc and I had rain coats, so we were the only people that stayed outside on the back of the boat. The skies looked gorgeous all threatening and moody. I like the way the edges of the lake disappear into the mist.

Lake Taupo’s epic history:

Lake Taupo was created when a MASSIVE volcano that erupted 27,000 years ago. It is 46km at the widest points and has an average depth of over 100m, so you can imagine, the eruption that caused it must have been gargantuan!

So, if you have a few hours to spare, go and visit the Maori Carvings near Lake Taupo. It is fun even in the rain!

The boat-folks, Ernest Kemp gave us free tickets if we’d like to return and do the tour again on a sunny day! We had lunch and then departed to go and see more volcanoes BUT it is really nice that they offered!

Extra art in Taupo:

After your boat ride, if it is not raining too much, there is quite a lot of pretty street art around Taupo. I only managed to snap a few examples, but if you visit on a less rainy day, I bet it’d be fun to explore and find more!

This isn’t some kind of sponsored post. I just enjoyed our excursion, so figured it’d be nice to share it with you all. 

22 thoughts on “Maori Carvings near Lake Taupo

  1. They look amazing. I bet it was very atmospheric crossing the lake in mist to see these suddenly loom out of the murk.

    1. We arrived from the side, so it was more like coming around a cliff-corner to suddenly see the artwork.

      I didn’t really know what to expect, so I loved it!

  2. I’ve been loving all of your pictures of your trip! Can’t wait to read all about your travels. This place is stunning! Too bad they aren’t ancient carvings, though, they are gorgeousness nonetheless!

    1. Haha! Yep, I guess I just assumed they were old by the way they were marketed before we bought tickets. Once we were on the boat they didn’t lie – they told us all they are nearly 40 years old. I guess they are older than me at least. 😉

    1. Hehe did they give you a voucher to use on another occasion as well? I thought that was a nice touch (even if we can’t use it!!)

    1. Yeah, I think that is why it took me sooo long to get to New Zealand. It’s the price of the tickets from Europe are pretty insane. When we came to book it, I was pleasantly surprised by the cost from Vancouver. It was less than i expected.

      If you go, maybe wait until you can fly from the US!

    1. Yay! Thanks Orla!
      I have quite a few more in the pipeline. I hope you’ll like the crazy prettiness in Kiwiland! <3

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