In the morning of January 30, my friends and I ventured out into the suburbs of Nelson city to participate in a bone carving workshop. Bone carving is a Maori tradition whose beautifully carved designs are immensely popular among tourists. Trust me, however - after this experience, you would never want to buy a bone carving souvenir in a shop again!
The bone carving workshop started off with an initial brainstorming session, where we applied individual designs to a piece of “happy New Zealand cow bone”. Under the expert tuition of Stephen and with the help of several tools, we watched our rough pieces of bone gradually turning into shiny miniature masterpieces. Still, most of our work had to be done by hand, hence the great sense of achievement we experienced during the day.
My friend Nathalie (whom you can see in the picture at the left) told me, “This is a fantastic souvenir. I have chosen to carve a wave at the bottom of my bone, which perfectly reminds me of my stay in New Zealand: swimming with dolphins and learning how to surf. It is truly exceptional.”
And each one of our carvings was. After that, I personally decided to stretch my creative potential and venture beyond the limits of a one-day experience. It was through Creative Tourism New Zealand (www.creativetourism.co.nz) that I heard of flax weaver Maureen Harte. Her unique location in the Golden Bay region between Farewell Spit and Collingwood made me spend a wonderful day blending merry laughter with hands-on discoveries over weaving my own little “harakeke kete” (flax basket). I remember the texture and the smell of the freshly cut flax as being extraordinary, and really came to appreciate its traditional Maori use for it.
In the future, I definitely want to pursue the path of creative encounters during my New Zealand travels. Apart from all the fun, walking off with your own handcrafted souvenir just sets the creative tourism activity apart from the rest. And it’s the perfect means to connect with real Kiwis. An experience I’d definitely recommend!