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Food from steam and the heart

Ancient traditions live on in Rotorua where natural energy sources of steam and boiling hot water well up from deep inside the earth to provide the elements for a unique experience. Here, in the spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality), Maori residents open their homes, villages and lives to visitors, to share the ancient arts of carving, weaving, tattoo, and culinary skills.

Good food is central to this spirit of hospitality and there are few authentic experiences like sharing a feast cooked in a traditional Maori hangi (earth oven) - a centuries-old cooking method that is perfect for feeding a crowd and bringing a community together.

A traditional hangi involves wrapping baskets of food in damp cloth and burying them with fire-heated rocks in a pit. The earth traps the heat and steam, slow-cooking the food to perfection.

In the true spirit of manaakitanga, making a hangi takes time and is a labour-of-love for the hosts. That leaves time for the guests to enjoy Lake Rotorua on a magnificent carved canoe as they experience the culture of a captivating people. And, when the baskets of food are revealed at day's end and the rich aromas of seasoned meat and vegetables rise from the steam, you'll know it was worth the effort.

Find out more about the tradational hangi and where you can experience it here.

Hangi preparation time, Rotorua

By Chris Williams

Cooking a hangi is always a team or community effort.

Next on your journey

Toi - Māori Arts →

Tā moko - Māori tattoo →

Rotorua Attractions →

Te Reo Māori - The Māori language →