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Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings, Lake Taupō
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Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings

The giant Ngātoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings on Lake Taupō has been hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary contemporary Maori artworks. Towering 14-metres above the deep water of Lake Taupō, artist Matahi Brightwell's carvings have become one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.

 

Visit the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

The Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori rock carvings are accessible by boat only, and can be reached by taking a scenic cruise, sailing boat or kayaking trip from Taupo Boat Harbour. 

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  • Boat cruises

    Taupo Classic Combo

    Taupo Class Combo - 'must do' in Taupo. 90 minutes Scenic Lake Cruise with Chris Jolly Outdoors. 30 minutes jet boat ride with Hukafalls Jet to the base of the spectacular Huka Falls.

    $156 Book now
  • Kayaking

    Kayak to the Maori Rock Carvings with Canoe & Kayak

    Let Canoe & Kayak take you on a kayak adventure across stunning Lake Taupō while taking in all the beautiful views of the surrounding coastline and neighbouring mountains before getting up close and personal to the iconic Māori Rock Carvings.

    $115
  • Water activities

    Taupo Watersports - Jet Ski Hire

    The most exclusive jet ski experience on Lake Taupo. No experience needed - Hire & drive the jet ski yourself. Blast around the bay or go on a self-guided tour by following the GPS map on the ski all the way to the iconic Maori rock carvings.

    $92.50 - $185 Book now
  • Boat cruises

    Sail Barbary - eco sailing Lake Taupo

    Explore Lake Taupō on an eco-friendly scenic cruise with Sail Barbary. Enjoy stunning views as you set sail to explore the Māori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay. Book and enjoy a must-do experience on New Zealand's only commercial electric sail boat.

    $49 - $59 Book now
  • Water activities

    Taupo Jet Ski Tours

    Come and get out on Lake Taupō, Let us take you on a tour to visit one of Taupõ's iconic tourist attractions, The Māori Carving's and enjoy an adrenaline rush on our Beautiful Lake Taupō getting there.

    $250
  • Scenic flights

    INFLITE Experiences Taupo - Overview

    INFLITE Experiences Taupo offers unforgettable helicopter tours, showing the best of Taupo's powerful volcanoes, thermal reserves, tranquil wilderness areas, colourful local lakes, sparkling rivers and coastlines.

    $99 - $790
  • Boat cruises

    Cruise Kakariki to the Maori Rock Carvings

    This all-year-round activity offers relaxation, fun and adventure on the water. Get right up close to this culturally significant 46 foot (14m) high rock art. Enjoy amusing and current commentary on Lake Taupo, the volcanoes and the carvings.

    $40 - $45 Book now
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About the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

When traditional marae-taught carver Matahi Brightwell paddled past a rock alcove on Lake Taupo in 1976, he had a vision of a tattooed face. 

His grandmother, Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert of Ngati Rauhoto, Ngati Tuwharetoa, Ngati Maiotaki and Ngati Whakaue, had asked the young carver to create a likeness of her ancestor Ngatoroirangi on a totara tree to create a permanent connection for her family to the land. When Matahi arrived in Taupo there was no totara tree to carve so he journeyed onto the lake for inspiration.

The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary artworks New Zealand has ever seen. Sculpted over the course of four years and completed in 1980, Matahi led a team of four artists, Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre, to create a spectacular carving of Ngatoroirangi on the rock face.

Wearing nothing but safety goggles and a pair of speedos, the carvers marked out the artwork using chalk, string lines and spray paint, then sculpted it by hand.

Surrounding Ngatoroirangi are smaller sculptures. These carvings depict tupuna (ancestors) and kaitiaki (guardians) that are pivotal to the history of the local Maori tribe. 

Matahi Brightwell: the artist        

 

Matahi Brightwell is one of the last traditional marae-taught carvers (Tohunga Whakairo) in New Zealand. As a 27th generation descendant of Ngatoroirangi, Matahi is passionate about his Maori heritage and is considered one of the fifty most remarkable people in New Zealand.

He is also the founder of waka ama in New Zealand, the sport of competitive racing of traditional Polynesian canoes, and was awarded the prestigious Blue Water Medal by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club in 1989 for his meritorious sailing from Tahiti to New Zealand in his hand-built 21m twin-hulled canoe called Hawaikinui.  

Restoration of the carvings

Artist Matahi Brightwell will lead a small team to clean and re-sculpt the carvings in order to return them to their original state. The first phase of the restoration began in February 2019. Find out more about the Maori rock carvings restoration project.

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