In the 1800s, Ohinemutu was a quiet Maori village that served as a gateway to the Rotorua region. Today it is a suburb of Rotorua city, but still retains much of its heritage. Take a stroll around the shores of Te Ruapeka Bay and enjoy the quiet—and the rich history—of this unassuming lakeside town. The Basics
The Ngāti Whakaue iwi
(tribe) settled on the shores of Lake Rotorua centuries ago; the village’s name translates to “the place of the only girl,” named by the great chief Ihenga after his daughter, Hinokakera, was murdered in the area. Ohinemutu is a historically significant site for Bay of Plenty Maori—it is home to the Te Papaiouru Marae (meeting place), which itself is home to the impressive Tama-te-kapua wharenui (or meeting house), and was once the sitting place for the Kotahitanga (Maori parliament).
Today, Ohinemutu visitors can walk along the shores of Te Ruapeka Bay and visit some of the quiet Rotorua suburb’s small hot springs and thermal vents nearby. You can also explore St. Faith’s Church, a striking hybrid of Maori and English architectural and design influences. Ohinemutu is a common stop on cruise ship shore excursions; for independent visitors, guided walking tours of the village are available. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Ohinemutu is ideal for anyone looking to learn more about precolonial New Zealand history or see some of Rotorua’s thermal magic.
- If you’re looking for an authentic gift or souvenir to take home, Māori carvings and handicrafts are sold throughout the suburb.
- Ohinemutu is a private suburb, so please approach it as you would your own home: don’t intrude or take photos of people or their houses.
Ohinemutu is a short walk north from Rotorua’s i-Site Visitor Information Centre. You can walk along the lakefront to the suburb, and then head west on Mataiawhea Street until you see Te Papaiouru Marae. You can also catch the number 1 bus from Arawa Street—get off at the hospital and head north until you reach Lake Road.
When to Get There
Most of Ohinemutu is private residential property, so you can walk around at your own leisure. Visit in the summer to ensure the best conditions while you stroll the lakefront. St. Faith’s is open to the public most days of the week—you can even join a Sunday service.
Take Stock at St. Faith’s Church
St. Faith’s Church is known for its combination of Tudor-era English architecture and Maori design, including wooden carvings (including an immense black-stained pulpit) and tukutuku
(woven wall panels). The church is also home to an iconic window etching of the Maori Jesus wearing a korowai (cloak). The window is set in the Galilee Chapel overlooking Lake Rotorua, so it appears the Maori Jesus is walking on water.