Queenstown is known as Tahuna in Maori. In the 1850’s Maori would visit Queenstown en-route to collect Pounamu (Greenstone). They would also search out the flightless Moa as a food source, which has been extinct since late 1600.
Gold was found in the rivers of near-by Arrowtown by Maori Jack Tewa in 1862 before a gold rush ensued. Gold miners came from Australia and California, and then Chinese.
A Maori Legend
A Maori legend surrounds Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. It is said that the giant Matau was burnt to death in his sleep after he abducted a chief’s daughter, burning a massive hole in the ground and melting the ice and snow of the surrounding mountains, forming the lake. The lake is a large “S” shape, like a giant, curled up and sleeping on its side. Matau’s head rested at Glenorchy, at the North of the lake, and his feet south in Kingston. Queenstown sits on Matau’s knee.
One of Wakatipu’s mysteries is the rise and fall of the lake by about 12cm (5″) every five minutes. Legend states that a Giant’s heart is impossible to destroy, and causes this rise and fall, while science says it is due to fluctuating atmospheric pressures. But across the lake from the town below Cecil Peak is a little island visible only from up close, from above, or from a different angle. Some say Hidden Island is the still beating heart of the Giant Matua..
Skyline Queenstown – Queenstown’s leading Maori cultural experience
Journey through the mythical legends and step into the world of Maori and feel the spirit of the Maori’s proud history celebrated in traditional song & dance. Experience the fearsome haka and the stunning poi display – a unique live show performed by Queenstown’s leading Kapa Haka group
During the Kiwi Haka show approximately 6 performers will be live on stage to share traditional Maori songs, dances and stories. Join a show before dinner or after an afternoon of luging at the top of Skyline Gondola.