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Ngatoroirangi Mine May Maori Rock Carvings-3-medium

Photo Credit: Love Taupō

Discovering New Zealand’s Heritage: Māori Rock Carvings

The Māori Rock Carvings that symbolize a more than 800 year old event are renowned as the most extraordinary contemporary artwork in New Zealand and are one of the must-see attractions in Taupō. Read this blog to understand why.


Māori Rock Carvings

In New Zealand, you will notice that carvings are an essential part of Māori culture and New Zealand’s heritage. This renowned Māori practice is surrounded by tapu (beliefs) and traditional customs also in modern New Zealand. You can find beautiful creations not only in the souvenir shops but in architecture, art, local Kiwis’ jewellery etc.

Traditional Māori carvings have something distinctly unique from the typical Polynesian style, which is thought to be due to the distance. Designs usually have been carved into wood, stone and the sacred ponamu (greenstone).

From the many legends and beliefs that are carried into today, we have learned that Māori ancestors are known as very religious and spiritual, and carving was an important part of spiritual activities as it was believed that the carved object was used as a vessel for the gods or spirits during rituals. Even more so, the material that was used for carving, tools and the carver itself always was considered sacred (tapu). 

Māori have passed on their skills and knowledge through generations so we are able to see and admire traditional creations also in modern New Zealand.

When visiting Taupō there are a few things on the must-see list, and one of them definitely is Māori Rock Carvings. A lot of people, when they first time hear about these carvings, think that they have been overlooking Lake Taupō since the first iwi settlement many years ago, but to their surprise, these Māori Rock Carvings are way more recent.

Photo Credit: Love Taupō

The Māori Rock Carving meaning

After finishing 10-year training as a carver, Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell was asked by his grandmother, Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngati Rauhoto, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maiotaki and Ngati Whakaue, to create a likeness of their ancestor Ngatoroirangi – a visionary Māori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupō area, to create a permanent connection for her family to the land.

Matahi was inspired by this idea and not only he carved the likeness of Ngatoroirangi, but also 13 smaller carvings that are on the surrounding rocks that are portraying the ancestors (tupuna) and guardians (kaitiaki) of the local Māori tribe.

To acknowledge the multi-cultural nature of New Zealand, Matahi included also two smaller carvings of Celtic design, which depict the freezing south wind Ngatoroirangi stopped and a mermaid.

The main carving has a central line, which represents the celestial side of this being, as well as you can see the third eye or spiritual eye that connects this being to mother earth. His lip tattoo means “shooting star”, to symbolize him as a descendant of the Star God and the eagle wing under his lip symbolizes how he was supposed to fly from one location to another. 

When looking at the whole cliff and taking in to account also smaller carvings, you will see 4 lineages making up who Matahi is.


History of The Māori Rock Carving

The Māori Rock Carving was never planned to be an iconic tourist attraction, but due to its significance to Māori culture and its uniqueness, the carving has had its fame since created in the 70s.

The 14m high carving accompanied by smaller carvings around it was carved over the course of four years from 1976 until 1980 by traditional marae-taught carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and 4 assistants – Te Miringa Hohaia, Steve Myhre, Dave Hegglun and Jono Randell – as a gift to Taupō.

What is really interesting, is that originally Matahi wanted to create something out of a totara tree, but as there was none available, he went onto the lake to get some inspiration as he always has been feeling close to the water, attributing it to his ancestral links. And to his luck, he came around the Western Bays and at the Mine Bay he noticed the alcove and instantly felt a connection to it and knew that it shall be the canvas for his intended work.

There were many sketch plans, but the main thing carvers had to get done before starting, was to clear the cliff face and get it to level. After that Matahi used a string line to map out the drawing. It was a long project for which none of the artists got paid because it was a gift from them to the locals and township. The only payment that was taken was donations to cover the cost of the scaffolding that allowed to create the carving in a safe way.

During the process Matahi was purpose-driven, and even though there were many people telling him to stop for various reasons, he carried on in a very detail-oriented way. Matahi has said: “As the descendant of Ngatoroirangi I had to present him in perfection or don’t do it at all.” 

The carver of the Māori Rock Carving

Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell is a traditional marae-taught carver and actually one of the last ones who has been trained like this.

When he came to Taupō back in 1976, he had just completed his 10-year training period with Māori elders and was full of inspiration to give back to his ancestors by creating something lasting and beautiful due to his passion for his Māori heritage. 

Matahi is a 27th-generation descendant of Ngatoroirangi –  a visionary Māori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupō area over a thousand years ago. 

But Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell is well known not just as the creator of the legendary  Māori Rock Carvings but also known as the “father of waka ama” as he is the one who founded the sport of competitive racing of traditional Polynesian canoes (waka am) in New Zealand. This happened after his journey in 1985 that replicated Māori migration from East Polynesia to New Zealand back in the 14th century, which he did in his double-hulled canoe he built especially for this trip.

Getting to the Māori Rock Carving

The Māori Rock Carvings are located in Mine Bay on Lake Taupō and as they are accessible only from water, it gives an even more special feel to it.

The Māori Rock Carvings location is a great excuse to hire a kayak if you want to have a real close-up look as well as if you are more into some adventure. 

There are some local guided kayak tours too, so you don’t miss out. 

But if you prefer a relaxing trip, check out the TOP10 membership deals and book Taupō Sailing Adventure to enjoy the comfort of the boat, admire the pristine waters of Lake Taupō, sip some tea and listen to guide commentary that goes into detail about the Māori Rock Carvings.

Get in touch with us at or call on 0800 668 229 and our reception staff will be more than happy to suggest the options but know – whatever you choose, you will have an unforgettable experience.

The Māori Rock Carvings that symbolise a more than 800-year-old event are renowned as the most extraordinary contemporary artwork in New Zealand and are one of the must-see attractions in Taupō. 

Read our blog to understand why:

Book a Māori Rock Carvings tour with Taupo Sailing Adventures and receive 10% off when you are a TOP 10 Member. Call us on 0800 668 229 to book or pop in and see our reception staff.
#tauposailingadventure #lovetaupo #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #top10holidayparks #DoSomethingNew #
Our Lakefront Glamping Domes offer a break with a difference for those wishing to escape their daily routine, unwind and reset. Enjoy a lakefront escape like no other where you can get close to nature without having to compromise on comfort or quality.

Whether you want romance, a serene honeymoon, a celebration, adventure holiday, or a simple break away from it all, you will find it here. All you need to do is pack a bag, jump in your car, and get here.
Book here today:
#motuterebaytop10holidaypark #top10holidayparks #glampingdomes #honeymooners #healthandwellnessgoals

Every Friday let's get together for a boogie with our awesome staff members Grace and Evan. 💃🕺


Learn the:
🕺Basic Rock & Roll steps,
🕺Rock & Roll waltz,
🕺Neon Moon,
🕺Rockabilly Stroll
🕺& a few basic line dances

Visit once and we’ll teach you the basics.

Visit more, and we’ll teach you more!!!!

Every Friday
7PM - 7PM
Recreation room

See you there!
#motuterebaytop10holidaypark #rockabilly #top10holidayparks #lovetaupo #holidayparkactivities
🗻 NZ Mountain Film Festival National Tour 🗻

Internationally recognised as one of the world’s premier mountain film festival events an audience can expect up-close adventures, emotive and insightful cultural content, and the usual fast-paced, action-packed adrenaline entertainment making for an impressive programme that will have outdoor enthusiasts inspired and entertained.

This collection has something for everyone and is the perfect environment to fuel your imagination and plan your next adventure. 


👉 You can either watch them online or on Thu 27 Jul, 7:00pm - 9:30pm at Starlight Cinema.

More info @nzmountainfilm 

📸 Photo borrowed from @nzmffTaupo FB page.

#nzmountainfilmnz #nzmountainfilmfestival #filmfestival #activitiesintaupo #adventure #travel #inspiration #lovetaupo #tauponz #staywithus #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #event #mountains #movies


The Taupo region is full of geothermal activity with wild-coloured silica terraces, hot springs, and steam vents bursting from the ground. For visitors not looking to get hot and sweaty while trekking up a volcanic cone, these areas, such as Orakei Korako, offer an easy way to witness the geological wonders of New Zealand's volcanic foundations.

Either you are after a geothermal walk or relaxation in a hot pool, there are plenty of options for all.

🌋 Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park
🌋 Tokaanu Thermal Walk
🌋 Spa Thermal Park
🌋 Craters of the Moon
🌋 Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa
🌋 Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs
🌋 Tokaanu Thermal Pools
🌋 Otumuheke Stream
🌋 AC Baths Hot Pools
🌋 Turtle Pools - Turangi

Which one is your favourite?

📸Photo by bryn beatson on Unsplash.

#hotpools #geothermal #geothermalspa #geothermalwalk #taupo #thingstodointaupo #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #lovetaupo #tauponz #geothermalactivity #thermalspa #thermalspapark #geothermalpark #geothermalpool

Every Wednesday and Friday let's get together for a boogie with our awesome staff members Grace and Evan. 💃🕺


Learn the:
🕺basic Rock & Roll steps,
🕺Rock & Roll waltz,
🕺neon Moon,
🕺Rockabilly Stroll
🕺& a few basic line dances

Visit once we’ll teach you the basics.

Visit more, we’ll teach you more!!!!

Wednesdays and Fridays
7PM - 7PM
Recreation room

See you there!

#rockandrolldance #rockandrolllessons #dancing #dancelessonstaupo #taupodancelessons #activitiesintaupo #lovetaupo #tauponz #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #guestactivities #thingstodo #thingstodointaupo #camping #holidays #glamping #accommodation

This week is all about celebrating Matariki, and why not to do it by staying at our park and enjoying the beautiful views of Lake Taupo? 🥰

We have a few powered and unpowered sites still available, so get in touch via DM and we will help you to make a booking or head to our website and make a booking there.

Not sure why to stay with us this week?

👉 activities for kids over Matariki Weekend - ✅check
👉 dancing some rock&roll with the staff on Friday - ✅check
👉 plenty of fun in Taupo to celabrate Matariki - ✅check
👉 magical views - ✅check
👉 great staff and facilities - ✅check

Looking forward to seeing you!

#motuterebaytop10holidaypark #matariki #matarikiweekend #matariki2023 #schoolholidays #staywithus #kidsactivities #familyfriendly #holidays #taupo #lovetaupo #stayintaupo #staywithus

Friday and Saturday the park will be doing Star Weaving & Pom Pom making

👉 11am to 1.30pm on each day in the Recreation Room

p.s. if you haven't booked your stay, do it now!

#motuterebaytop10holidaypark #staywithus #stayintaupo #taupo #lovetaupo #laketaupo #matariki #matariki2023 #matarikinz #kidsactivities #starweaving #pompommaking #schoolholidays
Are you planning to go to Taupō Winter Festival? 

Food trucks and Le Pine & Co Local Live Music sessions every night till 8.00pm. Giant light sculptures, glow in the dark candy floss, fun activities and much much more. 

Create some memories for life during these school holidays.

Plan your activities and book your stay with us 

#winterfestival #taupowinterfestival #lightfestival #schoolholidays #familyfriendly #kidfriendly #taupoactivities #lovetaupo #tauponz #motuterebaytop10holidaypark
Calm winter days are the best to enjoy the still and stunning Lake Taupo.

If you have a TOP10 club card, you can rent a kayak or sup from our park with 10% discount.

✅ Become a TOP 10 Club member and save not only 10%* off standard rates at TOP 10 Parks around NZ but get great local discounts for activities and restaurants.

#clubcard #membership #top10holidaypark #top10members #discounts #specialoffer #laketaupo #kayaking #kayakhire #suphire #staywithus #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #lovetaupo #tauponz
It says it all. Thank you! 💚💙

#fridayfeedback #review #testimonial #5stars #googlereview #feedback #guestreview #recommendation #staywithus #stayintaupo #motuterebaytop10holidaypark

Our park has a perfect location for a summer or winter adventure being only 30 minutes from Taupo township and 60 minutes from Whakapapa ski fields...

So... etiher you need a lift from the airport, want to go out for dinner, are attending an event or need to be dropped off at the hot pools, there are taxi / transportation services available in the area.

@my_waka_your_waka 021 146 7654
@greatlaketaxis 07 377 8990
@taupotaxis 07 378 5100

Or ask our friendly staff to help you with the bookings.

#taupotaxiservices #taupotaxi #taupotransportation #getaroundtaupo #stayintaypo #lovetaupo #staywithus #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #holidaypark #campground #familypark #location
@marketcentraltaupo  presents The Greenflea carboot sale on the first Sunday of every month - next one 2nd July!


This is an amazing wee carboot sale with a green twist! You will find quality reusable, recycled & repurposed items here including furniture, toys, tools, clothing, vintage & collectibles and second-hand books. 

All of this alongside their amazing main market. 🤩

📸Photo credit: Market Central Taupo

Go and explore the surroundings!

🗻Did you know that Mt Ruapehu is about 55 minutes’ drive south of the park for snow skiing in the winter season.

🚶If you want to just hang around the park, you are most welcome to walk throughout the holiday park grounds and along the lake front, which is very picturesque, but please do not go onto sites where other guests are staying.

🌿There is a walking track from Motutere Bay over the ridge to Waipihi, with unsurpassed views of the lake. The track starts about 100 metres past the northern end of the park along State Highway 1 on the right-hand side of the road (you will see the Ministry of Works area where there is usually gravel). The walk takes approximately 30 minutes each way, is quite steep at the beginning but is otherwise a fairly easy walk. At the Waipihi end you can cross over State Highway 1 and enjoy the beach at the rest area.

More information for activities in the region can be found at reception, our staff will be pleased to help you. <3

#walks #activities #whatodo #laketaupo #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #top10holidaypark #laketauponz #tauponz #lovetaupo #tips #stayintaupo
What are you up to during School holidays?

Lake Taupo at winter time is looking magical, so let us know if you need help to choose the best site / accomodation for your winter get-away over the school break.

#winter #schoolholidays #taupoaccommodation #stayintaupo #kidsactivities #lovetaupo #tauponz #laketauponz #top10holidaypark #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #laketaupo #camping

#fridayfeedback #feedback #review #testimonial #top10holidaypark #motuterebaytop10holidaypark #staywithus #fivestars #googlereview
So peaceful... and how one of our guests said after their stay "The views were breathtaking." 🥹🥰

We have some cabins and self-contained units available over the Winter School Holidays, as well as plenty of powered and unpowered sites. 

Are you coming?

#motuterebaytop10holidaypark #winter #laketaupo #tauponz #winterholidays #schoolholidays #winterschoolholidays #staywithus #view #nature #beautifulview
"Like Taupō in summer? You’ll love it in winter!"

Malcolm Flowers Insurances Taupō Winter Festival 2023

The majority of festival activities are located in and around the Tongariro North Domain and Great Lake Centre – the hub of Taupō.

The festival is brought to you by The One Taupō Trust. Money raised through the festival goes back to families in the region who are under financial hardship due to having children that require specialist medical care.

More info: 

Photo credit: Wayne Frost of

#winterfestival #winter #winternz #winterinNZ #winterintaupo #taupoevents #lovetaupo #tauponz #staywithus #schoolholidays #kidsactivities #familytime #familyactivities #ideasforfun #motuterebaytop10holidaypark
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Motutere Bay TOP 10 Holiday Park