8 great cool and quirky museums

By: Claire Smith


Two policewomen walking beside the Wellington Harbour Board tug boat Kupe, 1972 8 Great Museums Two policewomen walking beside the Wellington Harbour Board tug boat Kupe, 1972
Steampunk HQ 8 Great Museums Steampunk HQ
Arthur's Canny Museum 8 Great Museums Arthur's Canny Museum

NZMCD has put together eight great cool museums that should be on your ‘must see’ list this winter

Arthur’s Canny Museum, Ngatea

If you’re passing through Ngatea (SH2 between Auckland and Tauranga), be sure to stop at the Ngatea Water Gardens. As well as some beautiful gardens, you’ll also find Arthur’s Canny Museum—home to around 11,000 beer, soft drink, and unusual cans from all around the world. The collection was owned by Arthur Blake who began collecting cans in 1989, his first being an Australian beer can he found on the side of the road.

Tawhiti Museum, Hawera

The Tawhiti Museum is a must-see if you’re in the Taranaki region. Using life-sized exhibits and scale models to capture the past in a series of super realistic displays, Tawhiti has regularly been judged New Zealand’s third-best museum, behind Auckland Museum and Te Papa. The museum’s Traders and Whalers exhibition—which takes you on
a fantastical boat journey through New Zealand’s past—is a must-do while you’re there.

Steampunk HQ, Oamaru

Founded in 2011 by a group of creative minds passionate about steampunk, Steampunk HQ promotes sustainability and recycling and features an interesting collection of retro-futuristic sci-fi art, movies, sculptures, and sound. Situated in an 1883 grain elevator building and located in the heart of Oamaru’s vibrant Victorian precinct and within walking distance of the beautiful Oamaru harbour and world-famous Blue Penguin colony, it is well worth a visit to this quirky, fun museum.

New Zealand Police Museum, Wellington

If you’re heading through Wellington and have time to stop at the New Zealand Police Museum—within the Porirua Police College campus—it’s well worth a look. Established in 1908, the collection was originally modelled on Scotland Yard’s Black Museum. Today, it houses and exhibits a large collection of New Zealand Police cultural property and criminal cases that tell the real-life stories of policing in New Zealand.

The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

This award-winning museum is a destination in itself with more than 4500sqm of undercover exhibitions giving a fascinating insight into what life was like for our early pioneering settlers. Walk through life-size recreations of pioneer homes, through a working mill, and get up close with operational machinery kept in working order. There’s also a gift shop and a cafe if you fancy a bite to eat while you’re there.

The Toy Collector, Christchurch

This fun museum is a must-see for children and adults alike. Privately owned by Alan Preston, the museum was started through Alan’s love of toys—from the collectable Matchbox cars of his childhood to the Sylvanian Families that his children loved. As well fabulous toy displays and exhibitions, there is also a small shop where visitors can indulge in their own love of toys—from Hot Wheels to Playmobil, or that special gift.

Claphams National Clock Museum, Whangarei

If you love clocks, watches, and all things time-keeping, then Claphams Clock Museum in Whangarei will really make you tick. The collection was started by Whangarei local Archie Clapham, with his personal collection of 400 clocks, which has since grown to more than 2100 clocks and timepieces—from beautiful and inspiring works of art to clocks that make you tea! And if you’re keen to start your own collection, the gift shop has some great clocks available for purchase.

Fyffe House, Kaikoura

Unmissably pink, Fyffe house is the oldest surviving building in Kaikoura, with many of its rooms remaining much as they were in the mid-1800s when the house was built. The last remnant of a pioneer whaling station, Fyffe House tells the stories of Kaikoura’s whaling past. Some of the building’s foundations are actually huge whale bones, which, due to their porous structure, are thought to have absorbed much of the shock from the 2016 earthquake, protecting the building from any significant damage

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