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Planning a trip to New Zealand? Looking for an awesome activity to please the whole family that won’t break the bank? Look no further than Te Papa, New Zealand’s best museum. It has something to peak any interest and is appropriate for all ages. And, best of all, admission is free! Read on to see why Te Papa should be at the top of your family’s must-do list.
Te Papa has six floors filled to the brim with exhibits covering a wide range of topics. There’s even an outdoor section! On level one, you will find the outdoor native bush walk, as well as the main entrance, cafe, and store. Level 2 features a nature and marine exhibit (a new nature zone will be opening in 2019) and a temporary exhibit space. During our trip, the temporary exhibit was an incredible walk through of the Gallipoli battle of World War II as told from the perspective of some of the New Zealand soldiers who fought in it. This was the most fascinating museum exhibit I have ever seen!
Level 3 is dedicated to exhibits on New Zealand wars and the creation of New Zealand through volcanic eruptions. On level 4, you will find Maori and other tribal and cultural art and artifacts. Levels 5 and 6 house their art collection. During our visit, one of the art collections on display was an extensive fashion collection by a group of Polynesian women living in New Zealand called the Polynesian Sisters.
Sprinkled throughout the museum, you will find little rooms full of hands-on exhibits for children to explore. You could easily spend an hour or more in one of these rooms. There is just so much for kids to experience. In one room, they have a life-sized model of a blue whale’s heart. It was big enough for kids to climb in!
Te Papa Location & Hours
Te Papa is located on the water’s edge in downtown Wellington on the North Island of New Zealand. The address is 55 Cable Street. It is open from 10 am to 6 pm everyday except for Christmas Day. And, of course, as I mentioned above, admission is free for everyone!
Te Papa has everything you need to spend the full day there. There are three cafes and three stores in the museum. Additionally, you will find parents’ rooms, ATM’s, a bar, and free wifi throughout the museum. There is a small information desk near the main entrance and a larger one on the second floor.
If you are driving to Te Papa, you don’t have to worry about not finding a place to park. There is a large surface parking area right in front of the museum. There is also a parking garage and street parking available by the museum.
Because there is so much to see and do at Te Papa, I would recommend getting there early. This will allow you to beat the crowds and will give you plenty of time for your family to see everything they want. Don’t underestimate how much time you can spend here. I could have spent a couple hours in the Gallipoli exhibit alone!
If your family has differing interests, consider splitting up to explore different areas of the museum. This will allow each person to have time to fully experience the displays that interest them without feeling rushed. Because the museum offers free wifi, it should be easy to find each other later.
If your family begins to get tired and hungry during your visit, take a break in one of the cafes to rest your feet and fill your tummies. This will give everyone the chance to recharge. If you have little ones, spend some time in the kids’ rooms so they can examine exhibits on their level. If they need to burn a little energy during the visit, take them to the outdoor section where they can stretch their legs.
Te Papa is not only New Zealand’s best museum, it is also one of the best museums for families in the world. And it’s completely free to visit! This is a must-do activity at anytime, but is an excellent choice for a rainy day in Wellington. There is sure to be something to please everyone in your family at Te Papa.
To help you plan your trip, see our New Zealand trip planning guide. For ideas on other things to do in New Zealand, see our New Zealand road trip and things to do with kids on the North Island. For more information on Te Papa, visit their website. Have you been to Te Papa? Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Happy travels!
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