The other day when we went to the Maori show at the Willowbank, Christchurch's fabulous wildlife park, I got aware that KoTane, the show group, now have invented a new source of income. You are no more allowed to take your own pictures or video recordings of the song and dance show. Instead, you can have your photo with the group taken by a professional photographer, and guess, of course you can buy the pictures afterwards.
This has nothing to do with culture, just with business. Photographing has been allowed for years, and you can still photograph during the powhiri, the greeting, and in the pa, the Maori village, before the show begins. It is just another sad attempt to rip off tourists.
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy the song and dance, as well as the introduction into Maori culture, and learn how to swing the poi (balls attached to strings) and perform the haka (Maori war dance).
Fun Alternatives: Take enough photos during the greeting and in the Maori village, so you do not need the group photo for getting a photographic memory of the visit.
At the end of April 2007 the Tamaki Maori Village has been opened in Ferrymead, next to the Ferrymead Heritage Park. As it has taken four years and 5 million dollar (11 instead of 6) more than expected the Tamaki brothers who also run the Maori village in Rotorua obviously think NZ tourists should pay for the bad planning and extra expenses.
They know that they rip tourists off, and if they have a conscience (as followers of their brother Brian's Destiny Church they should) it is already a bad consience. Otherwise I could not explain the announcement in The Press that they plan to make Cantabrians (the locals; inhabitants of Canterbury) pay only half of the entry fee to the fortified village (pa) if they want to experience the Maori show.
The show is different to the show in Rotorua. I read that the focus is not on song and dance but on a theatre-like performance in which they re-enact Maori history from 1820 and the arrival of European settlers. The title is "Lost in Our Own Land". I cite: "Many felt trapped between the promise of the new ways and the significance of their ancient values. " What the new values are is quickly learnt: rip off tourists... ;-)
The entry fee is NZ$95.
If you want to include a hangi (Maori meal cooked in the earth-oven) you must expect $120. Bon appetit!
If you still want to visit:
Phone (03) 366 7333
Fun Alternatives: Visit a Maori song and dance show. Also there you learn about Maori history and traditions, and if you want to know more read a book. Most travel guides already provide a lot of information. If not, go to a library. The Christchurch library in Worcester St is fantastic.
In the meantime there are also Maori incentives in NZ which introduce you to real Maori life and are less of a rip-off.
As we only had limited time in Christchurch, we decided to buy ourselves tickets for a hop on-hop off tram ride to take us around all the main sights and tell us a little bit about the area while on the way. It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, especially as we bought a combined ticket which gave us access to the Gondola too. It turned out, however, that the distances were so small that we could easily have walked it in no time at all, and the commentary while we were on the tram wasn't very good and near impossible to hear over the noise of the tram moving along the tracks! On top of this, we felt like the ultimate tourists riding around on it, and all in all we felt pretty disappointed and ripped-off by the whole thing.
Unique Suggestions: There are two possibilities where I would consider this to be worth the money: firstly, if you are disabled and are unable to walk very far - the tram will take you past all the sights in the city centre and drop you right outside them all. Secondly, if you have children with you then it might be quite fun for them to have a ride on a tram. Other than that, I'd suggest saving your pennies, getting some excercise and walking it!
In keeping with the colonial theme that Christchurch has based its tourism on there are many horse 'n cart rides around the central city area. The horses are Clydesdale horses, a type of horse used commonly in New Zealand for hard labour (such as clearing land) in the colonial times. They make for an interesting photo but I think you would be wasting your money riding on one of these.
Be careful where you park in the central city. You need to abide by the restrictions, so read the nearby signs. P5 means you can only park 5 mins. P120 means maximum of 2 hours. If it's a pay area, and most of the central city is, be sure to pay the correct amount.
Unique Suggestions: Pay the fees. Abide by the time restrictions.
Fun Alternatives: The alternative is that a Parking monitor will surely appear and write you a ticket.
The corner dairy is a store usually found at the corner of a main street in the suburbs in every town. It has become a landmark and feature of New Zealand. The dairies are where you go to get your milk, bread, and morning papers. You can shop for other provisions and groceries as you need them. There is no need to stock up as the stores are easy to reach, open 7 days a week, and have no parking hassles.
Unique Suggestions: Shop in the daylight hours or before 22.00Corner 7 day Dairies charge a lot more for grocery items and all the other items they sell. Because these dairies are open long hours 10 - 14 hours a day and are convenient in this respect. Be prepared to pay a lot more than the ordinary supermarket like Pack N Save or Countdown
Fun Alternatives: Try the larger shops/supermarkets like Pack N Save, or Countdown as some branches are open 24 hours, so if you have transport go to these shops
I have heard stories about taxi drivers taking Japanese tourists for a ride, so to speak, travelling an unnecessarily long route to a relatively close destination. It may be advisable to stick to one of the major taxi operators such as Blue Star or Gold Band just to be on the safe side.
Shopping in the inner city puts many people off as the car parking is not so plentiful. Many people prefer to bus to town or shop in the suburbs where several malls provide free and ample car parking for patrons.
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