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Waka on Avon & Ko Tāne - Willowbank Wildlife Reserve & Restaurant

Waka on Avon & Ko Tāne


Waka on Avon – A completely new and active way to experience Christchurch’s 180 year history.

Leaving from the Margaret Mahy Playground in the city centre, this 45 minute waka paddling experience is an amazing historical and cultural trip on Ōtākaro Avon River.

Participate in the excitement of paddling a hand-crafted waka down the River Avon, and learn about the importance of the waka to Māori culture. Enjoy early stories of Canterbury’s Ngāi Tahu iwi, as well as other stories about the European settlers, understanding the positive things they achieved by building the city of Christchurch together.

This is not the first time waka have been seen on the Ōtākaro Avon River either.  Early Māori originally came to Aotearoa New Zealand by waka and 180 years later, waka remained an important part of the early building of Christchurch. Māori and early settlers used waka to assist with transport and trading, working together along the Avon River.

We are currently taking bookings on request (minimum group size applies).

For more information and to book Waka on Avon, click here –


Ko Tāne – the South Island’s only Māori cultural experience based at Willowbank.

Ko Tāne is an interactive Māori cultural experience that gives visitors a look into our country’s history from the past to the present day in a fun and informative way.

Your experience at Ko Tāne will include an Official Welcome to Aotearoa (New Zealand) by participating in a traditional Māori pōwhiri

performance – taking in the wero (challenge) and the hongi (pressing of noses) between chief and visitor.

Your experience will continue when entering into our interactive village where you will be shown the tools and skills of the Māori hunter, the games they played, and the traditional instruments used to communicate with the Gods.

You will then be entertained with a 45-minute kapahaka performance, including action songs, poi dances, haka, stick games, and weapons displays.  During the performance, you will be given the opportunity to get up on stage to learn a poi dance or haka.

The final part of your visit will be a kai (food) tasting of some Māori inspired canapes. We can prepare vegetarian and gluten-free kai provided this is requested at the time of booking.

Information for Ko Tāne here –


Ko Tāne is currently closed and is set to resume in 2023.


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