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6 must-see exhibits at Australasia’s most visited museum

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is host to a variety of thought-provoking, informative and interactive exhibitions. From the ground-breaking storytelling of Gallipoli: The scale of our war to the significant national art collection showcased in Nga Toi, there’s a lot to see. Thanks to the free entry, you can easily go back for more!

1. Gallipoli: The scale of our war

This ground-breaking exhibition combines the worlds of movies, model-making, and museums to immerse visitors in the Gallipoli campaign. Crafted by Oscar-winning Weta Workshop, the towering presence of eight giant figures, at 2.4 times human scale, highlights the enormous impact that the war had on these everyday people.

2. Ngā Toi

Te Papa’s Ngā Toi exhibition space is home to some of New Zealand’s most significant artworks. Colonial portraits of Maori elders by acclaimed painter, Goldie, are displayed alongside Colin McCahon’s epic panels, and a former Venice Biennale installation based around a real Kiwi-made 4WD. 

3. Marae (meeting place)

Te Marae

Te Papa is currently home to New Zealand’s oldest wharenui (meeting house), a beautiful illustration of carving techniques traditionally used by Maori. For a more contemporary take, Te Marae on Level 4, with its bold colours and forward-thinking design, is a striking example of how Te Papa uses modern art techniques to tell traditional stories of Maori culture. 

4. Phar Lap

Phar Lap

A truly trans-Tasman horse, Phar Lap’s heart currently resides in Canberra, his hide in Melbourne and his skeleton in our very own Te Papa in Wellington. View (one of) the final resting places of the racehorse that captured people’s imaginations almost a century ago.

5. The Colossal Squid

Colossal Squid

With 35cm wide eyes and weighing in at around 350kg, the world’s only colossal squid specimen on display certainly lives up to its name. Decide for yourself whether it satisfies the description of one scientist as “the most perfect colossal squid [she] has ever seen”.

6. History of the haka


The illustrious haka ‘Ka Mate’, popularised by the All Blacks, is a symbol of national pride and a living cultural treasure. Learn about its origin and significance of this traditional challenge from the tribe Ngāti Toa Rangatira.

Time to plan a visit?

Check out more must do’sbrowse and book accommodation, search Wellington’s sights and activities, see what events are coming up, have a nosy at all the incredible bars and restaurants, and start planning your trip with our handy experience planner.

If you’re heading over from across the ditch, Wellington’s just a three hour flight away from the Eastern Seaboard (sometimes even less!). We’ve compiled a Wellington Essentials guide just for you with suggested itineraries, weather details, maps and more.

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