Te Papa

See, smell and touch the exhibits at New Zealand’s hi-tech and interactive free national museum.

Embrace New Zealand’s culture, history, flora and fauna with six floors of exhibitions and interactive experiences at Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand). Its full Māori name is “Te Papa Tongarewa,” which means “container of treasures.”

Start your hands-on adventure inside Our Space, a hi-tech interactive experience that includes The Wall, a 59 feet (18 meter) long interactive video wall.

Learn about the natural forces that shaped New Zealand at the Awesome Forces exhibit. Step inside the shake house and experience a simulated earthquake. Watch the light and sound show that tells the Māori account of creation.

At Mountains to Sea you’ll see displays of more than 2,500 native plants and animals, from insects to the 68-feet (21-meter) skeleton of pygmy blue whale.

Get close to what’s thought to be the heaviest squid ever caught. It weighs 1,091 pounds (495 kilograms) and has a mantle length (the length of the muscular organ that protects the body) of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters). It was captured by a New Zealand fishing vessel in Antarctic waters in 2007 and is preserved in a large tank.

Appreciate some of the museum’s cultural treasures, including thousands of Māori ancestral carvings, ornaments and weapons. Te Papa also houses the national art collection, which includes thousands of works by New Zealand artists, photographers and sculptors.

Explore an urban rainforest at Bush City, just outside the museum. Here, you can crawl through a limestone cave to see glow worms and the bones of an extinct moa bird.

Kids will love the activities designed for them. They can dig for dinosaur bones, learn traditional Māori games, make a puppet, examine insects under a microscope or take an art class.

Situated in Cable Street on Wellington’s waterfront, Te Papa is easily reached by car and public transport. Most of the city’s buses travel near the museum and the main railway station is just a short walk away. There is pay parking 24 hours a day.

Te Papa is open daily, including public holidays. Admission is free though charges may apply to some temporary exhibitions.