The Wellington Museum focuses on the history and culture of New Zealand’s capital city. Four floors of exhibits talk about everything from city to sea, from the beginnings of Wellington until modern day.
Unlike many museums, this one really digs in to the stories of the city, instead of just spouting facts. The exhibits draw you in and, by the time you leave, you feel a connection to Wellington.
The first floor is dedicated to an exhibit called “Telling Tales”, a timeline detailing interesting events that happened in Wellington every year for a 100 year period. Some of these tales include: The story of Pelorus Jack, the dolphin that “escorted ships” across the Cook Strait; Barrie Devenport, the first person to swim across the Cook Strait (1962); the highest wind gust recorded in New Zealand, 98 knots.
The second floor focused on the maritime history of Wellington. The thing that stuck with me most from the museum was the story of the Wahine Disaster. In 1968, due to storms and high winds (that was the day of the highest recorded wind gusts), a ship sailing into Wellington Harbour sunk. 51 people died that day. A small room is dedicated to this story, with a short film playing every 15-20 minutes or so.
The third floor was mostly empty while I was there, as they were working on a new exhibit. The fourth floor is referred to as “The Attic”, and is one of the funnest museum exhibits I’ve seen. Designed to look and feel like you’re in an old attic, this exhibit is filled with odds and ends of information and interesting things–quite like a curiosities shop. It’s highly interactive, integrating fantastic visuals with audio and film bits. It feels quite magical, as if you’re stepping into a story book.
Location: 3 Jervois Quay, Queens Wharf
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily
Admission: FREE entry
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