Fun educational day for the family at Auckland War Memorial Museum
We had our first ‘indoor’ trip in Auckland as the past one month here has been all about the amazing outdoors – beaches up in Northland region, sea kayaking, fishing and enjoying the stunning natural landscape and seascape around Auckland and Bay of Islands. We visited the Auckland Warm Memorial Museum located near Auckland central. It is close to Mount Eden and makes for a great family day out in central Auckland combining the two.
You can easily take public transport here, both the LINK Bus and the Explorer bus gets you here, for further details see information on public transport. There is also parking available, free for 2 hours, if you wanted to drive. We came here twice now – once using the bus and the other time drove in from St Heliers. Price of tickets and hours are listed here. It is free for New Zealand residents. Whilst the price is not too steep ($25 for adults and $10 for children over age of 5), we have been spoiled by all the amazing free Museums in the UK past 10 years, and it seemed expensive to us!
First of all I think the name of the Museum is misleading and in a way bit of a deterrent for ‘family tourists’ – because there is so much more to the museum than the war memorial section! In fact we didn’t even get time to visit the war memorial sections which I heard is very impressive and has several WWI and WWII artifacts and memorabilia. There is also the special exhibition here at the moment where the Gallipoli campaign is featured using the interactive world of Minecraft. The major sections we got to see included natural history, volcanoes, ocean world, and the rich stories of the Pacific People – Māori, Pakeha, the people’s of Oceania and other newcomers.
We enjoyed the Maori collections and the Natural History sections the most. Our kids are aged 7 and 9 and are at a good age to really appreciate lot of the exhibitions. The second time I came with my sister and her family visiting from the States. Her kids were 2 and 4 and they enjoyed themselves too in the sections that were more child friendly.
The Maori Court section was one of our favourites – This gallery contains over 1,000 artefacts from around Aotearoa which date back to the arrival and settlement of Māori. There are a number of original full-size buildings in this gallery including the famous meeting house Hotunui.
The natural history section was small but very interesting as lot of the displays were of marine and terrestrial plants and animals native to this region. They also had an interactive section here – the Stevenson Discovery Centre, which had hands-on space for discovering the natural world. This was a big success with the younger kids during both our visits.
Volcano exhibitions were really cool! The gallery is installed with a series of modules telling various stories, of different volcanic eruptions that have occurred here and in other parts of the world. It combined artefacts, film and video to highlight the benefits of living near a volcano as well as the deathly destruction it can cause.
‘Wild Child’ section was interesting – a funny mixture of what childhood was like here in the early 19th century – a mixture of colonial childhood and the changes from being a wild colonial child of the 1880s into the cherished modern child of the 1950s!
Views from the special gallery section at the top floor were stunning! This area is only opened during special events and not open to the public at all times. There is a children’s library here and story telling and other events during school holidays.
Even though this is by no means like some of the larger museums we have been to in Europe, it was a very rich and informative experience for us here as lot of the general and history knowledge was new to us having just moved to New Zealand. Learning about the Maori culture, heritage, learning about volcanoes and the natural world here in Oceania was a great experience and I would highly recommend visiting here if in Auckland. I think there would be several items of interest for adults and children alike.