WellingtonSee & Do
Looking across Whairepo Lagoon at the Rowing club and Wharewaka at sunset.

Wharewaka o Pōneke

Wellington’s early history is rich in stories. Local Te Atiawa can give you an insight into the city’s cultural background. They conduct walking tours and experiences on the water. The tours share stories of the city’s Māori past, and explain how it has led to its contemporary culture.

All tours leave from Te Wharewaka o Pōneke — a distinctive building located by Whairepo Lagoon on Wellington’s waterfront. It is the site where Te Aro once stood, one of the largest Māori communities in Wellington up until the 1880s.

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Walking tours

There are two walking tours to choose from.

On the two-hour Hidden Māori Treasures tour, you’ll head to Te Aro pā and learn about the people who lived there. There’s also a special visit to an excavation site that’s not open to the public. This unique experience tells the stories of how Wellington developed and became the city it is today.

If you’re short on time, a one-hour City to Sea tour will have you seeing Wellington from an all-new perspective. You’ll hear about Polynesian explorer Kupe’s arrival in Aotearoa, the story of the that shaped the harbour, and find out how Māori culture influences modern-day life in Wellington.

You’ll also hear stories about the two taniwha in the harbour and other fascinating facts about Māori culture.

A Waka (canoe) in Frank Kitt Lagoon.

Waka tour

Four traditionally carved working sit in Te Wharewaka o Pōneke. A traditional Māori awaits visitors. After a and introductions, guides will take you through everything you need to know to become . They teach you basic commands, chants,  , and salutes. Paddling across the water in a waka is a unique and enchanting tour that offers insight into Māori culture.