WellingtonSee & Do
The exterior of Te Papa Tongarewa, half glass and half concrete.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

  • Location

    55 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington

  • Website

    Te Papa

Any visitor to Wellington should have the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa at the top of their to-do list. The largest museum in the country takes pride of place on Wellington’s waterfront. At 36,000 square metres and six stories high, it contains a vast repository of collections. It’s home to more than 800,000 artworks, objects, and specimens. It curates cutting-edge interactive exhibitions with a contemporary, and bicultural approach. Te Papa is a museum experience that’s accessible for all.

Entry to Te Papa is free with the occasional special exhibition requiring a fee. Among the long-term exhibitions is Te Taiao Nature where you can explore New Zealand’s weird and wonderful wildlife. It tells the story of the country’s seismic history, and how it has influenced the incredible native flora and fauna. Those natural wonders are on display in Bush City, a living outdoor exhibition. You can experience thousands of native plant species and some fun family-friendly activities on an onsite bushwalk.

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Te Papa is also home to a dedicated gallery space, Toi Art. The gallery hosts interactive and immersive works, alongside a roster of showstopping exhibitions. Toi Art also showcases the national art collection, which Te Papa is the custodian of. Its 40,0000 works cover a range of mediums from traditional and contemporary photography to sculpture, and painting. Part of Toi Art’s intention is to remove the barriers of traditional art galleries and show visitors that art is for everyone. Discovering and exploring art is part of the Te Papa experience. 

In 2015, Te Papa joined forces with Wētā Workshop to create an exhibition that humanises the stark realities of war. ‘Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War’ follows eight ordinary New Zealanders through the Gallipoli campaign, using their stories and words to explain this harrowing event. Models of the men, at 2.4 times human size, reflect the monumental impact of war. The ground-breaking exhibition combines cutting-edge technology with important historical storytelling for an unforgettable museum experience.

On 14 February 1998, Te Papa opened its doors for the first time. In the 25-plus years since that day, the museum has welcomed almost 34 million visitors.

A tour guide shows a child the designs on the walls of Rongomaraeroa in Te Papa Museum Te Marae.