The native Maori call it Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud), and New Zealand has been called Gods' Land and the Paradise of the Pacific since the early 1800s. Its outlandishly surreal green, the undulating hills, jagged mountains, steep fjords, raging rivers, scenic beaches and active geysers leave visitors breathless time after time. Its thundering waterfalls, the tranquil lakes, the silent glaciers, the towering mountains, and the exhilarating nature stay with you forever. This "Lord of the Rings" scenery coincides with the vibrant Maori culture, superb organic food and great wines. Maori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa, with a long and intriguing story. Based on oral records, archaeological finds and genetic analyses, historical treatises place the arrival of Maori in New Zealand in the 13th century AD. The origin of Maori has been traced to the islands of Eastern Polynesia, and their journey to New Zealand occurred in a number of epic waka (canoe) voyages over a significant period of time.
These journeys established Maori as daring and resourceful adventurers, and as one of the greatest navigating peoples of all time. The contemporary Maori culture has been shaped by the traditions of its rich cultural heritage, with an outward view of the challenges faced by indigenous peoples in a global society. The defining aspects of Maori culture include artistic carvings, weaving, legends, tattoos (moko), performances (notably kapa haka), customary hospitality and community involvement. Since the early 1980s, the Maori culture has undergone a revival. The regeneration of interest in Maori culture has extended to language, and Maori language programs (such as kohanga reo) are now flourishing.