Discover Mine Bay’s Māori Rock Carvings
When I moved to Taupō, everything about the lake was fascinating to me – the pristine water, the unseen bays, hidden bush, and just the overall freshness of it all. It was completely different to the sandy beaches I was used to. So naturally one of the first things that captured my interest about the lake was the Māori rock carvings – not only one of Taupō’s most popular tourist attraction, but also the most photographed – making it to the top of my Taupō bucket list.
Hidden on an alcove in Mine Bay, the carvings tower 14 metres above water and feature a strong cultural history in the most unique way.
Māori legends brought to life
One of New Zealand’s most spectacular cultural attractions, these works of art were created in the late 1970s by marae-taught carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, alongside a team of four artists – Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre. The main carving takes the face of Matahi’s ancestor, Ngātoroirangi, the visionary Māori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to Taupō 1,000 years ago. Each part of the artwork carries its own story and meaning, with the smaller carvings portraying tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians) of the local Māori tribe.
How do you get there?
The carvings are only visible from the water, but there are plenty of ways to make your way out to see them. Scenic cruises let you kick back and relax as you explore the remarkable coastline of the lake and take in the stunning scenery, while listening to the stories and legends about Taupō’s local history and culture. Or, you can gather your crew and take a private boat charter, while enjoying the sightseeing, swimming, fishing and more at your own pace. If you’re in for a bit of adventure, then kayaking will get you right up close to the native bush, steep cliffs and inlets on the way – not to mention the closest you can get to the carvings too.
Either way, you’re in for an amazing experience. I know because by now I’ve been to visit by kayak, private boat and cruises, each of them unique and exciting in their own ways. Don’t forget to charge your camera before you go and have a cold beer in the fridge for your return.