Te Papa Museum of New Zealand © Te Papa Museum

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa: where the location itself is a treasure

View the map


Te Papa: its location alone is a treasure.

Strolling along the brilliantly laid-out Wellington waterfront, it’s but a short maritime meander from the CBD to this modern history centre.

‘Rich with symbolism and accessible to all’ say the curators, and it sure has been deliberately designed to cater to the modern museum visitor (it opened in 1998). There is a greater proportion of interactive exhibits than you might initially be used to. And that’s a crazily good thing.

Te Papa delivers, amongst other things, a truly inspiring and interactive look at New Zealand’s history and culture.

If you didn’t know what a Busy Bee or a corrugated iron Holden Kingswood were, you will once you’ve left, and you will feel better for it. A virtual bungy experience? A simulated earthquake, perhaps? Like we said, interactive.

Innovation and approachability are the keys — this is not an intimidating, overly academic institution, but neither is everything ‘dumbed down’ for the ‘lowest common denominator.’ And other clichés. It’s known as ‘our place’ and has become such a unifying entity even Aucklanders are prepared to admit they love it —and, in fact, form a high proportion of the millions of visitors who have passed through the significant foyer in the last (nearly) 20 years.

There is a large Maori collection, which complements that at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. There is a full-scale marae or meeting place — if you haven’t been welcomed onto one on your way through the country, this gives you a great chance to gain some understanding as to why this forms the centre of Maori social culture.

Other exhibitions change out regularly, so check it out and see what grabs you. The book shop and a couple of brilliant cafés will give you a chance to recap over a cappa or pause for breath as you make your next move. You could do days here: there are, after all, three rugby fields’ worth of dedicated exhibition space. Wonderful.

Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Things to do > Art and culture

Wellington Writers Walk

Wellington’s waterfront is the envy not only of most other New Zealand cities, but also of many cities around the world. And so are its writers. 

Find out more

Things to do > Must-Do's

The Beehive and Parliament Buildings: the heart of Aotearoa's government

Get into the nub of it at all at the end of the day and jump on a free guided tour into the heart of New Zealand’s government at the Beehive in the parliamentary precinct.

Find out more

Things to do > Must-Do's

Zealandia: the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary

Explore the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with more than 30 kilometres of walking tracks and ample opportunities to spot tuatara, kiwi, hihi, saddleback and tui.

Find out more

Things to do

Things I love about Wellington

Discover the perfect place to be downright gothy (because Vladislav and Viego and What We Do in the Shadows) . . . 

Wellington CBD Where to stay in

Show me all Places to stay

From $145
Bella Vista Motel

We welcome you to the Bella Vista Wellington. This property has been independently assessed by Qualmark as 4 star quality accommodation. Wellingt...

Book now

8 /10
From $125
West Plaza Hotel

With a great location in the heart of Wellington City, the West Plaza Hotel offers a welcoming, friendly atmosphere, spacious and comfortable rooms...

Book now

9 /10
From $140
Apollo Lodge Motel

Apollo Lodge Motel is situated in the heart of the entertainment district with Courtenay Place a minute's walk; here you will find restaurants, caf...

Book now

9 /10
From $149
Victoria Court Motor Lodge

Situated in central Wellington, within easy walking distance to theatres, shopping, bars, Te Papa Museum of New Zealand, the polytechnic and the fa...

Book now