Weird and Wonderful - Great Kiwi Museums

10 Apr 2016

Many New Zealanders love things that are wacky, and we pride ourselves on being innovators and embracers of things that are a little bit different. You’ll see Kiwi ingenuity or “Number 8 Wire’ solutions on a daily basis, but one of the best ways to see some of the historical feats of Kiwis is by visiting some of the museums around the country. These are great places to see interesting things, all while learning more about New Zealand and its history. Here are a few of our museum favourites:

Glasstime Glass Museum, Paihia

Glass is a standard production material for many objects in our lives. However, not many people get to see just how much work and skill is required in the production of glass objects. At the Glasstime museum, you’ll be treated to a fascinating show of odd and unique glass objects, including glass made from uranium that glows under ultra-violet light.

As well as beautiful pieces of art and a contemporary glass art exhibition, there are experts on hand to value any pieces in your possession, and other glass-based relics that date back many centuries.

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Opossum World, Napier

This museum may be the only one in the world dedicated to destroying an animal! It sounds harsh, but the opossum (or possum as commonly referred to in New Zealand) is a species that causes irreparable damage to our ecosystem - destroying trees and killing native animals. According to Atlas Obscura, there are around 20 bushtail opossums to every New Zealander (that’s around 80 million of them!), and they consume approximately 21,000 tons of foliage every night.

See opossum dioramas, stuffed animals and have the chance to buy a surprisingly soft opossum pelt or fur item from the museum store.

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Tawhiti Museum, Hawera

Originally a cheese factory, Tawhiti Museum was bought in 1975 by Teresa and Nigel Ogle. Over the years Tawhiti has grown into an award-winning site, owing to the realistic life size and scale models made and crafted on site by Nigel himself.

Showing the stages of the history of Taranaki from early Maori to the present day, as well as a hall of vintage farming and army machinery, this is a great showcase of one man’s life work and impressive modelling skill.

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Museum of Childhood, Masterton

There aren’t many people who wouldn’t like a chance to reconnect with their inner child. Get ready for nostalgia as you peruse the vast array of toys and games from different generations – meaning everyone will see something that brings back memories.

The museum includes everyday toys that belonged to regular families in New Zealand and abroad, as well as toys and games that once belonged to the wealthy elite. Young friends or relatives will wonder how the kids of the past entertained themselves with sticks, hoops and spinning tops!

Bishop's School, Nelson

As Nelson’s population grew in the 1840s, a school was built for the children there. Originally of the Church of England (due to the high number of British people in Nelson) the school later became Anglican and gained the name Bishop’s School. The building was replaced in 1881, retaining only one brick from the original school. In the following 100 years, Bishop’s School became a meeting room, scouts/guides hall, and library.

Nowadays as a restored school and housing several original articles, you have the chance to recreate a Victorian school lesson – complete with strict teacher and cane.

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Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World, Wanaka

What began as a single storey wooden maze in 1973 has become a shrine to all things puzzling and illusionary. With oddly-built buildings, rooms of optical illusions, a hall of faces that “follow” you and more – Puzzling World is sure to leave you speechless.

The museum continues to grow, now owned by Landsborough’s daughter and son-in-law who are always looking to add more confusion and illusion. A definite must visit if you are in Wanaka!

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Fiordland Vintage Machinery Museum, Te Anau

When Europeans first started to farm New Zealand’s rugged land, the tools they used were prehistoric in comparison to the tools, innovations and technological wonders of today. Step back in time as you explore the process they went through, the tools they used, and get an appreciation for just how hard they toiled daily.

As well as being able to review the tools of the old days, tools used over the centuries and generations later are also on display too – up to some of the newest technology in farming today. The Vintage Machinery Museum illustrates how farming has developed over our short yet illustrious history.

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Have you been to any of these amazing museums? We’d love to hear about your experience! Tell us about it in a comment below.


Photo credits:

Tawhiti Museum by Tawhiti Museum

Puzzling World by Puzzling World

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