I think you have to be booked in in advance. The bus comes and picks you up from your accommodation and your driver will tell you some history (and some corny and cheesy jokes) as you drive around picking some other folk up. He'll stop off at a ticket office, where you pay. Here is where we told them we had a vegetarian in the group and they took a special order for our veggie.
You then head out to the Tamaki village. It starts with the tribe coming to welcome you to their village. As you'll be told, this may look funny to outsiders, but make sure not to laugh or giggle as the Maori are very proud of this heritage.
You are then herded into the woodland to learn about different aspects of Maori life at different huts and you can take part in some of the activities, including the Haka. If it's winter, dress warmly, this part is all outdoors.
The next part of the evening is spent in the meeting house where you are treated to Maori songs, dances and stories while the haangi food is taken from the ground and prepared.
The dinner itself was ok. Unfortunately our vegetarian's dish never arrived, but as there were lots of veggies at the meal (and she eats fish...so, more of a pescatarian), we didn't complain. The buffet consisted of lamb, chicken, kumara, carrots, stuffing, salads, bread, fish, mussels. You were invited to have a second or even third helping, but it's not left out for too long, so if you plan on this, go quickly, or else stock your plate really high!!
Dessert is pavlova (I thought before going, everywhere would have pavlova on their menu, but this was not to be! Perhaps the kiwis are tired of it?) and steamed pudding. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are all available and there is a bar open (although not an open bar!).
After a quick song after dinner, you head back on your bus where our driver encouraged each nationality there to sing a song from their own country which was a bit of fun at the end of the night!
It's a bit cheesy, but we enjoyed learning about the culture and having some fun doing it. Shame the veggie dish was missing, but as I said, the pesci didn't go hungry.
Handy hint: Grab a Jasons.co.nz brochure from an iSite before you head out for each member of your party and receive $10 off the experience.
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