Monday, March 23, 2009

Maori Tourism Success Story

Hell’s Gate and Wai Ora Spa is a 20-acre Maori-owned reserve on the outskirts of Rotorua and in 2007, after wandering through Hell's Gate's steaming thermal valleys that feature hot lakes, sulphur formations, Rotorua’s only mud volcano and the largest whirlpool in New Zealand, I gave in to the urge to roll in thermal mud in the outdoor mud baths. Mmmmmm! Plenty do – like this young German couple visiting the reserve recently.

All images supplied by The Wai Ora Group
This thermal hot-spot and spa is part of the Wai Ora Group which was started in 2008 by Bryan Hughes (Te Arawa, Tuhoe) and his wife Liza. It now also includes Mokoia Island Wai Ora Experiences, which Bryan and Liz formed when they purchased the lease for Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua; plus the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort, pictured above. Bryan and Liz have used their extensive experience to create a group which reflects a modern Maori approach to business and tourism and each operation within the group follows a very specific ethos stemming from their desire to offer unique New Zealand - and specifically Maori – experiences for visitors and guests. Their Mokoia Island Experiences for instance, focus on the sharing of Maori myths and legends that have been handed down through generations; along with traditional song and dance; guided walks on the island that detail Maori use of flora and fauna along with an outline of current Department of Conservation initiatives that aim to restore endangered bird species on the island bird sanctuary.

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