Best ways to celebrate Matariki in New Zealand’s North Island

Matariki marks the Māori New Year in the traditional lunar calendar celebrating the first rising of a star cluster, Pleiades. This takes place each year in late June or early July.

And in 2022, Matariki is being recognised as an official public holiday in New Zealand, with the first celebration on 24 June. Matariki is an opportunity to return to the places New Zealanders call home and reaffirm their bonds with their whānau (family), friends and communities.

With a number of events to celebrate Matariki in the central North Island of New Zealand, we’ve rounded up the best ways to be truly star struck this New Year.

Light up with a tour of the Glowworm Cave
Light up with a tour of the Glowworm Cave

Glowing in Waitomo

Waitomo is a village known for its extensive underground cave systems that are inhabited by thousands of glowworms that light up the Glowworm Caves. A unique Twilight Matariki Glowworm Cave Tour will take you below ground to learn about the Caves’ historical and geological significance and the region’s cultural stories. Be greeted with a traditional powhiri on arrival, followed by kawakawa tea and a treat. Before embarking on a one-of-kind tour through the glowworm caves at night.

Or delve into the full glowworm cave experience on the Te Reo Māori Immersion Glowworm Cave Tour. Entirely spoken in Te Reo Māori, be led by an expert guide who is a direct descendant of the cave’s original explorers.

Also at the caves, a special Matariki ki Waitomo Rongoa Workshop is being hosted that will allow you to develop a deeper understanding of Māori rongoā (traditional medicine). These uses herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing for optimum living.

Matariki Dish Challenge
Take part in the Matariki Dish Challenge

Stars on a plate

Nearby in Rotorua, the 2022 Matariki Dish Challenge takes place. Eateries from around Rotorua are shining a light on local ingredients and Matariki. Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity and Māori culture, and dishes are created to celebrate the region. Each venue is offering a signature dishes to try, and then vote for the best dish of Matariki 2022. Also, taking part are seven restaurants within the Bay Of Plenty. This inaugural event runs from 13 June – 17 July.

Matariki Tauranga Moana 2022

See the city of Tauranga come alive with a series of events over the Māori New Year. This year’s theme, Tupuārangi: Heavenly Treasures, meaning ‘to grow in the sky’ is being themed into live performances, exhibitions, demonstrations, workshops, and family events. Take part in a Matariki Star Hunt at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Learn the Maori art form of tukutuku, the traditional latticework used to decorate houses. Or take to two wheels on a guided Historic Bike Tour. Over two-hour, discover this magical region popular for both its Māori and European settlements.

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Sleep under the stars in Owhaoko cabin
Sleep under the stars in the heart of the Owhaoko

Sleep under the stars

Suppose you are looking for a unique way to gaze at the stars this Matariki. In that case, Owhaoko in Taupo has a stunning and secluded cabin for a starry sleepover. Hidden smack bang in the heart of the Owhaoko ancestral lands, it is accessible only via helicopter. A chic set up with open plan living and spacious decks, the main bedroom – with glass walls and a glass ceiling – is for stargazing all night long.

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