Engage your senses with a trip to this New Zealand museum, home to the national art collection and interactive exhibits on everything from nature to Māori legend.
The full form of the Māori name Te Papa is Te Papa Tongarewa, meaning "container of treasures", and there could not be a more apt description of this New Zealand cultural treasure house. Expanding across 6 floors, the museum takes the form of a number of interactive exhibits and experiences on subjects as diverse as the natural environment and New Zealand culture and history.
Most visits start with a trip to Our Space. This interactive experience includes the 18-metre video wall referred to simply as The Wall. This is followed by a visit to the Awesome Forces exhibit, an exciting section of the museum in which you can experience a simulated earthquake among other things.
The Mountains to Sea portion of Te Papa houses in excess of 2,500 indigenous species of flora and fauna, including the 21-metre skeleton of a pygmy blue whale. This is also the home of a 495-kilogram preserved squid, thought to be the heaviest squid ever caught. (The mantle alone, the muscle that protects the squid's body, is a staggering 2.5 metres in length!)
Moving on to more traditional exhibits, Te Papa also boasts a collection of thousands of Māori carvings and weapons, as well as the national art collection which consists of sculpture, art and photography by a wealth of New Zealand artists.
Just outside the museum building, you'll find Bush City, an urban rainforest complete with limestone caves and the bones of an extinct moa bird. The kids will be entertained for hours here, with activities ranging from digging for dinosaur bones and learning Māori games, to taking part in art and science classes.
Te Papa is situated on Cable Street in the city centre and is easily accessible via public transport. The museum sits near a number of bus routes and is a short walk away from the main train station. There is also 24-hour paid parking available. The museum is open every day and entry is free, though fees may occasionally apply to some of the temporary exhibits.