Lake Taupō is a huge body of water in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island.
The lake is actually the crater from a huge volcanic eruption dating back 26,500 years. Its deepest point is 186 metres.
There are many cruise or kayak options to get out onto the lake, and the main attraction is the large Māori rock carving at Mine Bay.
The Rock Carving
The rock carving was created in the late 1970’s by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell.
After completing 10 years of training with Māori elders, he returned to his grandmother’s land with a plan to create a major carving.
Most Māori carving is done with wood, but when he saw the rock face, he knew it was the perfect spot.
At 10 metres high, and taking four summers to complete, his art is now available to view by anyone who ventures onto the lake.
The largest and main piece is a depiction of Ngatoroirangi: a Māori navigator who guided two tribes to the area over one thousand years ago.
Around the rocks on either side are lots of smaller rock carvings.
When we visited the rock carvings, we chose to go with Ernest Kemp cruises.
At $35 to $45 per person, depending on your departure time, it was the cheapest cruise option available.
And I can highly recommend it!
The boat is a replica steamboat built in the 1980’s and you have the option to sit outside or inside.
The trip out to the carving is around 40 minutes to an hour. Complimentary tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.
The captain also provides a commentary of interesting information.
He told us about the western bays of the lake as we were passing them, as well as the lake itself and the distant Tongariro mountains on the far side.
Upon arriving at Mine Bay, he told us the story of the huge rock carving while getting the front of the steamboat almost impossibly close to it. We could almost touch it!
We saw some of the other boats arriving while we floated around in Mine Bay, including a large sail boat.
But I was very happy with our replica steamboat and don’t feel I missed out by not going with one of the more expensive options.
There were also a few kayaks around, which is the other way to view the carvings. This option looks like a great day out if you have more time.
Don’t Miss It!
No matter which cruise or kayak company you go with, make sure you visit the rock carvings if you’re heading to Taupō.
They’re not as ancient as people first assume, but the skill and cultural knowledge that went into creating them are a must-see.
It’s a fine example of a man using his creativity and talent to provide a wonderful cultural experience.
Have you visited the Taupō rock carving? Is it on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Top 7 awesome things to do in Auckland
- Mount Taranaki summit track
- Moving to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa
All images in this post are the property of lastminutewanders.com