Exploring New Zealand’s vibrant street art, quirky museums, cutting-edge architecture and more is one of the best ways to uncover the stories of the nation: here is No. 101 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the country’s national museum, which opened in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara with much fanfare back in 1998 and has been regularly rated among the world’s best since. It is a great a place to learn about Māori culture; an insider’s tip is to join the one-hour Daily Mana Māori Tour before striking out to explore on your own.
Visit Te Marae, Te Papa’s modern take on an authentic yet inclusive marae, which embodies the museum’s spirit of bicultural partnership, and permanent exhibitions that include the popular Te Taiao Nature. Located on level two, it takes visitors through four main exhibition areas and explores New Zealand’s geology, birds, animals and trees from a traditional Māori world view and a Western scientific perspective. Experience the simulated force of an earthquake in the exhibition’s quake house and check out the biggest colossal squid on display in the world.
The long-standing Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition is also not to be missed. A collaboration between Te Papa and design and manufacturing powerhouse Weta Workshop, the exhibit tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War through the experiences of eight ordinary New Zealanders. Each character is captured and frozen in a moment of time as a 2.4-scale human sculpture. The effect of the 3D storytelling is both enthralling and moving. Spanning five galleries, the long-term Tūrangawaewae: Art and New Zealand is made up of works from the gallery’s collection and explores identity and cross-cultural exchange.
Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa, meanwhile, is a vivid representation of how shape, colour and pattern have influenced and inspired a roll-call of New Zealand artists including Tiffany Singh, whose popular Total Internal Reflection, an immersive, constantly changing coloured light installation, is a must see.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, located on the waterfront, is open daily from 10am until 6pm (except Christmas Day) at 55 Cable Street. To help you plan ahead, go online to download a map of Te Papa and before you leave, check out the museum store for original prints by contemporary local artists, handmade jewellery and homewares and the museum’s own book range published by Te Papa Press.