Te Papa (translation; ‘our place’), the National Museum of New Zealand is located in the city centre of Wellington. It is one of the must dos in Wellington and like most museums in the country is free to enter. Of course, donations are much appreciated, every little helps, said a wise man once!
Te Papa is not your usual museum with boring exhibitions with no sense of logic. It is absolutely visible how much effort they’ve put into creating, designing and organising the exhibitions. It has a very innovative approach and the way the materials are communicated to the audience is technologically impressive.
The National Museum of New Zealand is one of the best ways to learn history about New Zealand in one place. There’s a very good reason that Te Papa is often described as the best free activity in New Zealand.
Te Papa Exhibitions – Highlights
There are always temporary exhibits at the museum so visit the official website for the latest on offer. Listed below are the long term exhibitions at the museum. There’s so much to do that I highly recommend you checking out which exhibits you most want to see so that you don’t miss them!
Gallipoli: The scale of our war
Gallipoli is the story of 8 New Zealanders who found themselves part of the Gallipoli campaign in World War 1. The exhibition has been created with the fantastic skills of the Weta Workshop.
Te Taiao | Nature
A great interactive exhibition where you become an explorer and go through 4 exhibition areas and 2 lounges. Check out New Zealands unique wildlife, experience the Quake house, listen to native birdsong and learn how New Zealand is protecting its unique flora and fauna.
Blood Earth Fire
This is quite a sad exhibition in that you examine what New Zealand used to be like before human habitation and how the landscape and wildlife living here changed so dramatically after our arrival. There is some optimism though, looking at how we now care for the land.
Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow
This is an exhibition you can’t miss. It’s all about the Rongowhakaata Iwi (Iwi can be described as a tribe), their taonga (treasures), their history and their art.
You might have heard that New Zealand sometimes experiences earthquakes. Quake Braker is where you can see how Te Papa has been designed to withstand an earthquake with the invention of base isolators. Many buildings around the world that are located in earthquake prone zones now also have base isolators to help protect them.
This part of the museum is quite easy to miss (especially if it’s raining and you don’t fancy going outside) but you absolutely should visit it. If you need to take a break then head here so you can enjoy the native plants and lovely views of the harbour.
Phar Lap was one the most famous racehorses in the world and this exhibit celebrates everything about him and his achievements.
Te Papa has actually built a marae within the museum. “The marae (meeting grounds) is the focal point of Māori communities throughout New Zealand. A marae is a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds that belongs to a particular iwi (tribe), hapū (sub tribe) or whānau (family).” – source
Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a nation
The Treaty of Waitangi is one of the most important documents in New Zealand. It’s the founding document of the country which was signed in 1840 by more than 500 Maori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown. You can also see some of the tribes taonga and learn about the conflict in the years after the Treaty was signed.
You might be interested to learn more about Waitangi Day
Tangata o le Moana: The story of Pacific people in New Zealand
If you want to learn more about the history and culture of the Pacific people then this exhibit is a must visit. You can see waka’s (canoes), contemporary jewellery and music and find out about the first Pacific captain of the All Blacks – Tana Umaga.
Tūrangawaewae: Art and New Zealand
If you’re a fan of art level 5 has collections of Kiwi paintings, sculpture and photography.
There are many more long term exhibitions but the above are definitely some of the highlights!
Te Papa Opening Hours
The Museum is open every single day, except Christmas Day, from 10am to 6pm.
Te Papa Prices
It’s free to enter Te Papa, but you’ll have to pay for some of the temporary exhibitions and activities. There are also several guided tours on offer, which are particularly useful if you’re short on time.
- Introducing Te Papa – 3 tours a day – $20
- Maori Highlights Tour – 2pm (60 minutes) – $20
- Twilight Express Tour – 5pm (45 minutes) – $20
- Gallipoli Early Bird Tour – 9.30am – $15 (temporary exhibition)
(Further enquiries please call Te Papa Museum on +64 (4) 381 7000 or visit them online www.tepapa.govt.nz)