What comes to mind when most people think about New Zealand is it’s amazing scenery, the propensity for extreme sports, the ’Lord of the Rings’, and it’s over abundance of vineyards and wineries.

These are all very important components of the New Zealand experience. But in order to really experience New Zealand, one also needs to explore it’s indigenous roots and culture.

car7_adrienne-rewiAnd now, thanks to journalist and travel guide writer Adrienne Rewi, you can do this before you even set foot on New Zealand soil. Her blog, Introducing Maori Lifestyles, offers the perfect introduction to the Maori people – their culture, places, and art.

Seeing a ‘need for a Maori-oriented publication that would focus on the positve aspects of living in a bi-cultural society’, Adrienne set up Introducing Maori Lifestyles in February 2009 with the aim of providing ‘good news about Maori culture and contemporary Maori’ to those who might not otherwise have the chance to discover it.

Adrienne, a prolific writer currently working on her 6th edition of Frommers NZ, updates the blog regularly with interesting and informative snippets of information about Maori places, artefacts, activities, and experiences. Words are used sparsely, which allows the each post’s photographs to tell the story.

Over the years, Adrienne has travelled the back roads of New Zealand, visiting many Maori places that neither locals nor tourists will ever have the chance to see.

And by creating  Introducing Maori Lifestyles, Adrienne offers us an opportunity to see Maori culture in a whole new way.

But eventually, you may well want to venture out of cyberspace and into New Zealand.

So I got in contact with Adrienne to ask her whether she had any ’must  see’  North Island and South Island places she would recommend for visitors (esp international visitors).

Her recommendations:

Rotorua (in the North Island) has a great deal of Maori tourism opportunities within easy access and their i_SITE centre is well versed in promoting these.

Places like Te Puia, Whakarewarewa Thermal Village, Ohinemutu, Tamaki Maori Village, Mitai …and the list goes on….

Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Far North; Auckland Museum; Te Papa in Wellington…all must sees for anyone interested in Maori culture.

For braver, more adventurous souls, eager to scout the more inaccessible areas – Ngati Porou territory (East Cape), Tuhoe country (Eastland), the Whanganui River region, The Far North and Ngaruawahia in the Waikato all have a strong Maori presence.

To find out more about these places, start by visiting the NZ Maori Tourism Council website and  read travel guides  like Frommers NZ

And now, of course, there is also Introducing Maori Lifestyles where you can use the index/search box/archive to find tons of material on Maori tourism operators.