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Waka paddling is far more than just a way to get across water.  On our Waka Experience Tour we share stories of our connection to the wai (water) whenua (land) and taiao (environment), as well as our cultural and spiritual connections.  As you will learn, waiora means the wellness we receive from water, waiata (meaning song), refers to the rhythm of flowing water, wairua refers to our spirituality, derived from the mixing of “two waters”, the balance between positive and negative energy. 

On the waka you will feel these forces in action.  The water through your hoe (paddle) and the rhythm of our paddling stroke sets the tone for an experience as a group of people working together as one (mahi tahi).  Our goal is for all to paddle in unison, with “one splash” meaning our timing is perfect.  These connections and rhythms are important, and are a feature highlight of our Te Ra Hou - New Day Tour, in which we paddle without discussion to really feel the connection with the environment.

Our region is known for it's geothermal activity, and is the reason for the unique colour of our lake in some areas.  You may even see bubbles and steam on the lake, giving a glimpse of the forces around us.  Waiariki (water of the gods) refers to our naturally heated waters which you may enjoy while you visit our town.


Lakeside church and Mokoia Island, Ohinemutu, Lake Rotorua.  J.A. Bond, circa 1825

Our people are waka (canoe) people, our tūpuna (ancestors) came to Aotearoa New Zealand on voyaging canoes.  They explored inland by canoe and locally we travelled around the lake in waka.  This is our cultural heritage that we are honoured to share with you.