Looking at the postcard-worthy pictures of New Zealand’s landscape, we often associate the country only with stunning nature. The question is how to find out more about the history and the customs. As the cultural and social hub of New Zealand, Auckland has many satisfying answers to everything you want to know about this unique country.
In this article, we will briefly introduce you to a great variety of museums in Auckland.
The first museum you should visit in Auckland is the Auckland Museum in the city center, as it gives comprehensive information about New Zealand’s past. Here, you will find detailed explanations about the multicultural background.
The museum puts particular emphasis on Maori people, the original inhabitants of New Zealand. The management dedicated an exhibition to them by including over 2000 Maori artifacts and illustrations. From the pottery works to war tactics, it has answers to your questions about this mystical ethnic group.
Another exhibition, which involved natural history, has won several awards as the best exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere.
Auckland Museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except for Christmas Day.
Auckland Maritime Museum
Any place on Earth with a history of European settlers has to have a fabulous maritime heritage, and Auckland Maritime Museum is no exception, as it presents an outline of the development of naval technologies in New Zealand.
Spanning the entire past of New Zealand from the settlements to the recent history, Auckland Maritime Museum gives particular attention to the well-developed yachting scene in New Zealand. You will get to watch short movies and documentaries about the lives of the leading figures.
Visiting the museum, you will sail off into the unknowns of New Zealand’s coastline, both figuratively and literally. There is a small harbor belonging to the museum, containing a historic scow called Tes Ashby, that sails around the Auckland Harbour for an hour. You will witness the color transitions around the Harbour Bridge and the skyline during the boat tour.
Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki
Welcome to the most distinguished art institution in New Zealand. The gallery in the four-story structure came into life in 1888 in Albert Park. The extensive collection came from the donations of many benefactors, both local and international.
From traditional Maori paintings to European artworks and contemporary studies of local artists, each floor of Toi O Tamaki greets you with a different surprise, appealing to all five senses. What makes the gallery even more enjoyable is the free guided tours that give an insight into New Zealand’s art scene. You will get to hear the story behind the delicate works of art, thanks to the experienced guides.
The free guided tours are twice a day with two options – English and Mandarin. Toi O Tamaki Gallery is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
MOTAT (Museum of Transport & Technology)
If you like interactive museums, MOTAT should be on your to-do list. Established in 1960, MOTAT is the product of the Old Time Transport Preservation League that aimed to preserve the nostalgic tram line in New Zealand. In this educational museum, you will learn everything about the development of transportation networks in New Zealand.
MOTAT’s collection is a fusion of the old and the new. On one side, there is great emphasis on vintage trains, Carriages, and trolleybuses. There are also exhibitions featuring advanced technology in a collection of military aircraft, police vehicles, and even space rocket miniatures. If you want to travel back to the 1960s, you can take the historic tram line from the museum’s Aviation Hall to nearby attractions.
Besides its massive collection of vehicles, MOTAT also attracts attention for live events and concerts. You can find it open every day between 10 am and 5 pm, except for Christmas.
The Huia Settlers Museum
Situated in the idyllic Karamatura Valley, The Huia Settlers Museum opened to the public in 1984 with the fundraising efforts of the local community. Unlike Auckland Museum, The Huia Settlers Museum focuses on a specific portion of New Zealand’s history, the settlers in the Karamatura region.
There are artifacts belonging not only to Maori people but also the first European farmers to settle in Huia, Parau, Whatipu, and the other villages. The development of the timber industry and the relations between the two ethnic groups are illustrated through photographs, short movies, and books.
A distinct exhibition diverging from the museum’s theme relates to the shipwreck of the HMS Orpheus, a giant vessel that ran ashore in Manukau in 1863.
Unlike many other museums in Auckland, the Huia Settlers Museum is only open on the weekends and public holidays, between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
Torpedo Bay Navy Museum
New Zealand might be a peaceful country, but that doesn’t mean it lacks a sophisticated defense force. The most polished part of the New Zealand Army is perhaps the Royal New Zealand Navy. Lucky for you, it is partially open to the public at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Devonport.
The museum only consisted of a single room at the time of its establishment in 1974. In 2010, the management moved the exhibitions to the Torpedo Bay to replace a former naval museum.
Discover New Zealand’s inspiring naval history through various halls dedicated to different naval wars, including the Flagstaff War in 1845 between the British and Maori naval forces. Other exhibitions cover the World Wars I and II, as well as the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.
The biggest highlights of the museum are the displays of battlecruisers that shaped the course of the wars. HMS New Zealand attracts a lot of attention for its role in World War I, while the exhibitions of WW2 contain HMNZS cruisers and Japanese submarines. Overall, the coverage of the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum transcends the borders of New Zealand.
The museum is open 10 am – 5 pm every day, but closed on Christmas, Good Friday, and Boxing Day.
Devonport is among the earliest European Settlements in Auckland, but its history dates back to the prehistoric ages. Established in 1978 to replace a Presbyterian Church, Devonport Museum specialized in the region’s deep-rooted history.
Similar to many other museums in Auckland, you will find sections related to both nature and human history. The natural history involves the volcanic activities that gave rise to the rugged terrain. Because Devonport has been the storage area for the New Zealand Navy, you will also find displays of naval history.
The museum entry is donation-based, so you need to leave a small donation since that’s how the management maintains the building.
Don’t forget to visit Devonport Waterfront and the nearby historic churches.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Thursday between 10-12 am, as well as the weekends from 2 pm till 4 pm. Nevertheless, you can still book an appointment to visit outside regular hours.
Being in a strategic location, Auckland has become the center of attention by ethnic groups and settlers. That’s why it is not surprising to find a well-preserved historic heritage in the museums in Auckland. If you want to familiarize yourself with the unknown territories of New Zealand’s history, you should pay a visit to as many of the museums in Auckland as possible.
To fly into Auckland, Cathay Pacific should be your first choice for unrivalled levels of comfort and luxury. If you want to have an unforgettable journey to Auckland, book your flight ticket here.