Posted by: Vallere | May 29, 2011

Part 3 of 3 – Te Papa Museum

A little late on this one (and the next FFF, again!). Photobucket and/or WordPress have been messed up for a few days and giving me fits when I try to upload pictures. So I’m giving it a go today and crossing my fingers that this works, because this one is a VERY pic heavy post!

Sunday morning of our trip to Wellington, we visited Te Papa. Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand – akin to the Smithsonian in the States. Admission is free (some special programs cost a nominal fee) and the parking fee wasn’t bad at all (we were there almost 4 hours and paid $15 – Te Papa was totally worth that much for 4 people to get to enjoy it!). The full name of the museum is Te Papa Tongarewa and it means “a collection of precious things” loosely translated. The website for the museum is here if you’d like to check it out!

When you first walk in, you encounter a room with a satellite image map of New Zealand on lit floor tiles. The boys LOVED this! We walked around and stood on Wanganui, Wellington, Ruapehu and Taranaki. I showed them Auckland, where we flew in to, and Christchurch, where the earthquake was. Such a neat thing! We had to drag them away.

Ian standing on Wanganui.

The next part of the museum was the natural history area, and there was a gigantic area full of extant and extinct animals of Aotearoa. The centerpiece was a reserved giant squid – the largest one ever caught. On the website there is a cute little game for kids (adults, too!) where you can build your own giant squid, name it, and “release it” into the ocean – and find it again later!.

We were just amazed by all of the animals on display. There was a 3D movie about the squid, a whole room full of cetacean bones, dozens of stuffed birds… There were also displays about the earthquakes (complete with an earthquake simulator house) and volcanic eruptions around New Zealand.

Blue whale skeleton:

The giant squid:

Bird display:

Wetas – I still haven’t seen a live one! Note that on the scale in the back, there is a weta on the left, and THREE mice on the right – they are BIG insects!

Ian next to the now extinct Moa:

All throughout the museum (and there are six floors to it) are Discovery Zones, which are little playrooms for kids that are themed around the different parts of the museum. The rest of the natural history floor had lots of animal displays, books about animals, magnifying glasses to look at insects cast in plastic, microscopes, animal puppets, and…

…a life-sized blue whale heart!

On another floor, which talked about the inhabited history of New Zealand, there was a very large area about Maori history, the Treaty of Waitangi, and a Discovery Zone that had weaving looms, books in Te Reo (“the Language” – the Maori language), kid sized Maori ceremonial clothing for playing dress up, puppets, and puzzles. Here are some pictures from that area. They had a replica of a Marae (sacred meeting house) but that had a sign asking you not to take pictures, so sadly I have none of it. It was exquisite. It was built of dark colored logs, and every inch of exposed wood was carved and inlaid with shell. Stunning!

These are some Maori weapons made from pounamu (greenstone), wood and bone:

A replica of the type of boat the Maori would have been on when they arrived in Aotearoa:

This is about a third of the wall display of Tiki carvings. These symbolize power and fertility and are a very common symbol in Maori art:

The eyes of this Tiki were inlaid with abalone shell:

This is a type of counting stick that would be used retell family history. Each notch would symbolize a generation, and you could moe your fingers along the notches to make sure no one was left out:

This was a performance area in the museum. A group of singers from the national school of art were going to be performing that day.

The rest of that floor had displays about NZ involvement in WWI and II, and displays about the toys from past decades. The one about the 80’s and 90’s brought back good memories for both The Doc and I! Thundercats, My Little Pony,  GI Joe, The Wuzzles, The Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake…*daydreams* OH! And the Discovery Zone in that section was all about toys. Centerpiece was a large mechanical baby face made by WETA, the special effects studio. It. Was. Freaky. There were about 6 knobs that made the baby open and close its eyes, open and close its mouth, wiggle its ears and look left or right.


As we headed out of Wellington and back home to Wanganui, we pulled over to snap a few shots of the ocean. The highway along the coast around Wellington wasn’t there about 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, the land it’s built on wasn’t either. It was pushed up out of the ocean just over a decade ago – and someone decided it would be a good idea to build a road on this newly “reclaimed” land. You can see just how rough and new this land is. Not smooth at all the way you’d expect ocean-side rocks to be. It just reinforces how tectonically active this area of the world is!






  1. That is all just so cool….The WETA baby is a little freaky. But that map was just about the coolest thing ever in a museum. THAT WAS AWESOME Thanks girl!!!

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