What is Te Papa and why do so many people love it?

Te Papa is New Zealand's national museum, with Lonely Planet rating it as one of their top 500 places on earth. Te Papa museum is renowned for being bi-cultural, educational, innovative, and unlike what you’d expect from many museums – fun.

The name Te Papa Tongarewa translates from Māori to “our container of treasured things and people that spring from mother earth here in New Zealand”. Originally called the Colonial Museum in 1865, it was renamed the Dominion Museum in 1907 and relocated to a new building in 1936. There, the museum shared the space with the newly established National Art Gallery, which had incorporated the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts.

Te Papa’s collections span five major areas, focusing on art, history, Māori taonga (cultural treasures), natural environment, and natural history. The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa truly is in a league of its own, featuring six floors of ground-breaking interactive exhibitions, dynamic events, and education programmes.


New Zealand’s Interactive Museum

When you enter the national museum, you can explore the collections yourself or join guided tours. Group tour options include Introducing Te Papa, Daily Mana Māori, and art narrative tours, or you can purchase a private tour.

One of the museum’s thrilling past exhibitions, “Destination Mars”, placed visitors in a control room on an international space station. The audience participated in a 45-minute immersive experience where a solar flare threatened the planet. Combining theatre with technology, the viewers followed crew instructions, attended to their consoles, and marvelled as the action unfolded.


Where to find the latest exhibit calendar for Te Papa

You’ll discover many exciting short-term and permanent exhibitions on display at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa.

One of their most popular interactive experiences is “Gallipoli: The Scale of our War''. In collaboration with Wētā Workshop, the exhibition follows eight New Zealanders through the Gallipoli campaign in World War I. The thought-provoking, sobering exhibition opens with hyperreal khaki-clad giants recounting their real stories and experiences.

Discover what other exhibits are showing at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa here.


How to get there from around Wellington

Te Papa is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm except on Christmas Day. All visitors can enjoy free entry; however, charges apply to some short-term exhibitions and activities.

You’ll find the Te Papa national museum of New Zealand on the waterfront at 55 Cable Street, Wellington.


On foot

The museum is just a five-minute walk from the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre, 20 minutes from the railway station and 45 minutes from the cruise ship terminal.

By bus

Most Wellington buses stop along Courtenay Place and Willis Street. From there, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the museum. ‘Hop-on, hop-off’ buses stop outside the museum also.

By car

Driving south into central Wellington along the SH1 motorway, take the Aotea Quay exit. Continue along Waterloo, Customhouse, and Jervois Quays. Follow Cable Street and turn into Te Papa’s car park. Find parking information and fees here.


Nearby activities and attractions

If you’re interested in learning more about New Zealand’s seismic history and native fauna, explore Te Taiao Nature, one of the museum’s long-term exhibitions. Afterwards, head outside to Bush City – a living outdoor exhibition and bushwalk offering loads of fun, family-friendly activities.

Then, recharge at one of the onsite cafes, and before you leave, pick up some souvenirs at the Te papa store, such as prints, books and homewares.

If you want to know more about local culture, follow Wellington Writer's Walk to the Wellington Museum. Along the way, you can view a wide collection of quotes from New Zealand writers celebrated in large stone sculptures. Best enjoyed with an ice cream in hand!


Get around with Omega Rental Cars

Omega Rental Cars has two convenient Wellington locations. If you’re flying in, pick up a late-model, high-quality rental from our airport location. Or visit our depot on Hutt Road, just 5 minutes from the city centre. We’re happy to arrange a complimentary shuttle service. You’ll find Omega depots in major cities across New Zealand. Book with us today!