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New Zealand History and culture

History and culture holidays in New Zealand


When Captain Cook arrived in New Zealand in 1769 the Maoris had already been there for 400 years or so, having arrived from Polynesia in ocean-going canoes. The symbols of Maori culture are pervasive in modern New Zealand, and there are a great many sites that are worth making the time to explore. Our holidays also incorporate tours through some of the country's most beautiful regions.

Visit Hamilton and Waikato, home to the king of the Maori

Until the 19th century, the Maori were a number of often quite separate tribes, each with their own chief. However, growing European settlement around Hamilton lead to some of the tribes uniting to make a Kingitanga, or kingship. Hamilton is also the region that was thought to be the landing spot of the very first canoes to arrive from Polynesia. Some more recent canoes – though still 200 years old - can be seen in the Waikato Museum. If you can visit in the middle of March, the highlight of the area is the annual Turangawaewae Regatta – a spectacle of Maori war canoes racing on the Waikato river.

Hear the story of New Zealand, as told by Maori people

As with many cultures of Polynesian origin, Maori storytelling reflects the culture’s relationship with the sea, the most famous story being how the demi-god Maui fished the North Island from the sea. Seeking to eclipse his envious brothers, who had also gone out fishing, Maui fashioned a hook from an ancient jawbone and eventually caught a massive fish, the head of which is said to be the North Island of the country – the South being Maui’s canoe, or Te Waka a Maui in Maori. Visit the renowned Waitangi Treaty Grounds, or take a guided tour through the Northland’s Waipoua forest, complete with stories of Maori legend, to get a strong sense of New Zealand's heritage.

Let us tailor make your trip with an even balance of culture and nature

Our New Zealand travel consultants can help advise you on how best to incorporate historical sites on your trip – in particular how to get the most from your holiday while still relaxing, and enjoying high-end accommodation throughout your journey.


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Our top itineraries for New Zealand History and culture

Queenstown, New Zealand

Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,790 pp

With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Cultural Highlights of New Zealand

19-day tailor-made self-drive from £5,630 pp

A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Port Douglas beach, Queensland, Australia

Australia and New Zealand Discoverer

21-day tailor-made holiday from £5,305 pp incl. flights

Combine the highlights of two spectacular countries, from New Zealand's mighty glaciers and remote fjords to an Australian road trip exploring stunning beaches, waterside cities and iconic Uluru.

Maui Ultima Elite

New Zealand by Motorhome

20-day motorhome self-drive from £4,685 pp

With its spectacular driving routes linking gorgeous coastlines and vast national parks, and plenty of gorgeous locations to pull up and park, find out why New Zealand is tailor-made for a motorhome holiday.

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0610 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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