Often shortened to “Te Papa”, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s Maori name is quite a fitting one for the country’s national museum. It roughly translates to “the place of treasures of this land”. With an emphasis on diversity, Te Papa traces all of New Zealand’s history, both native and colonial.
Interactive and innovative, exhibitions at Te Papa cover a wide range of topics from natural history to Maori arts and culture. The permanent exhibition Mountains to Sea features the world’s largest squid to be on display, clocking in at nearly 500 kilogrammes. The Te Marae exhibit celebrates New Zealand’s multicultural atmosphere in its creation of a contemporary communal meeting place. Guides lead daily tours for individuals and small groups across the six-storey complex.
Located directly on Oriental Bay in central Wellington, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is within easy walking distance of several shops, hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as attractions like the Wellington Waterfront, Wellington Town Hall and a number of art galleries. It is served by the Te Papa Museum bus station.
While Te Papa was formally established in 1992, it had two significant predecessors. One was the National Art Gallery, founded in 1936. Prior to that, Wellington’s main museum was the Colonial Museum, opened on Museum Street in 1865. It was moved to the New Zealand Dominion Museum upon the establishment of the National Art Gallery.