Rob is an artist from Soild Gold Tattoo in NYC who specializes in traditional American tattooing and has recently partnered with Sperry at in-store tattooing events. We sent him all the way to New Zealand to discover the ancient traditions of Māori tattooing.

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I was given the gift of something called an Odyssey, with not much info besides, “Are you available these dates?” and, “Do you have a passport?” I received a box with my ticket two days before leaving and to my surprise, I learned I was going to New Zealand along with another tattoo artist. After a 24-hour, three-layover flight, we arrived. I couldn’t wait to get exploring.

We met Rangi, our Māori tattoo expert and guide. It’s always cool to compare styles and techniques, especially with someone from the opposite side of the world. At Rangi’s home and workshop, we got to see the traditional method for carving. At some point, the conversation led to me agreeing to get a traditional hand-hammered tattoo. When I saw the bone chisels, they looked way scarier than what I had imagined. Rangi chose symbols that depicted mountains and the sea that ultimately connects us. I was stoked on it.


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We decided to take a seaplane to the top of these snow-covered volcanoes. The sights were incredible and words cannot do them justice. On our last day, we went sailing. I’ve been on plenty of boats growing up in my grandfather’s marina in New York, but never a sailboat. On the water, we saw carvings left on the side of a giant cliff.



This odyssey was life changing. I was given the opportunity to leave my comfort zone and do things I’ve never experienced before. I even met a new friend, Eva, along the way. It’s unbelievable to think tattooing has given me these gifts.

Written by Rob Hotte. Follow Rob on Instagram @robhotte


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Meet Eva, the other traveler on this Odyssey here.

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