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"What we see and what we have not seen before" Top 5 Page for this destination Auckland Museum and Domain Tip by Kakapo2

Auckland Museum and Domain, Auckland: 43 reviews and 95 photos

  Detail of the Maori Meeting House.
by Kakapo2

There are two reasons to visit Auckland Museum (Tamaki Paenga Hira). First of all it has the world’s best collection of Maori artefacts (and of the South Pacific Islands) with which the National Museum (Te Papa Tongarewa) in Wellington cannot compare, second it is the country’s War Memorial Museum.

In between you find a bird collection which does not compare to the all comprising collection of Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, a Children’s Discovery Centre, a shop and a café, and in the centre of the second floor with New Zealand’s history of wars you find somehow misplaced, a nice replica of some colonial Auckland streets with shops, pubs, etc.

The first level (ground floor) is about the peoples of the Pacific – Maori and Polynesians. Also a small gallery, collections of 1960s furniture, design and decorative arts. Everything is a little crammed. Tthe café is tiny (and you won’t get coffee when their only grinder is broken…), the entrance hall is overcrowded with tellers and info stands, and if you arrive on a rainy school holiday weekend as we did last time we were there the noise can get overwhelming, especially as many parents do not look after their children at all, and the kids race around and scream like on a playground. Even if you are tolerant this can be unbearable, so you cannot concentrate on the collections.

The second level is about natural history – the already mentioned birds, interactive displays about volcanoes which is very suitable for a city built on 48 volcanic cones.

The third level is titled “Scars on the Heart”. There the story about New Zealand’s history of warfare is told – quite impressive and well done.

Lately there has been big discussion about the museum’s new director, a very short-haired Canadian lady who wants to make some changes. Some critics fear she wants to transform it into a place overloaded with interaction like Te Papa and not a real museum anymore. Others criticise her first special exhibition where collections from the archives are on display, and they cannot understand why this is called “Secrets”. Bullocks, I say. Of course, because nobody has ever seen those backstage mysteries. And again others are infuriated that she has put up signs saying that a donation of NZ$ 5 is “suggested – children are free”. This does not respect the country’s policy that museums have free entry and only charge for temporary exhibitions. But to make it clear: You do not have to donate anything if you do not want – only for guided tours ($ 10) which take place daily at 10.30am and 2pm.

Apart from all this I would say the museum needs some tidying up in several areas – just please not in the Maori area. It is close to perfect, and those spectacular displays do not need any enhancing, they speak for themselves.

Open daily (except Christmas Day) 10 am – 5pm


Museum info line (09) 306 7067
Booking line (09) 306 7048
General Enquiries (09) 309 0443
Email newsletter:

Address: Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland
Phone: 09 306 - 7067

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jul 17, 2008
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