Auckland is not bursting with museums, but those it does have go for quality over quantity. They are all quite central, and easy to get to either with a car rental, public transport, or even on foot if you’re staying in the city centre. Hertz offers both Auckland Airport car hire pickup and Auckland car hire options.
The Maritime Museum pays tribute to New Zealand’s maritime heritage. Every visit begins by retracing the steps of the first human settlers who sailed to New Zealand. Visitors can also enjoy a 60 minute harbour cruise aboard the heritage sailing scow Ted Ashby.
The museum was first proposed to accommodate the growing collection of the Auckland Maritime Society and Auckland Museum. It opened in 1993 as the Auckland Maritime Museum Hobson Wharf. The title was tweaked several times before its latest renaming in 2009 to reflect the focus on the voyages that shaped the birth of New Zealand as we know it.
The museum is located on Auckland’s waterfront in the Viaduct Harbour, walking distance from the CBD. Discounted parking is available in the Downtown Carpark with a voucher from the museum shop on arrival. It’s open every day except Christmas and entry costs up to $30 for adults or $15 for children.
MOTAT is well known for being the country’s premiere transport and technology museum, offering a family-friendly and interactive experience spread across two separate sites. Even better, it’s highly educational.
It offers a look at the technological achievements that have helped shape New Zealand, with a massive aviation collection (one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) within an award-winning hall that was recently overhauled. Cars, fire engines and all manner of vintage equipment can be seen at MOTAT. Take a ride on the classic tram, which is always packed with children, or explore the simulators, Tactile Dome and Mirror Maze.
MOTAT can be found next to Western Springs Park and the Auckland Zoo, so why not make a day trip of it followed by a picnic in the park? It’s open every day except Christmas Day. It’s about 10 minutes from central Auckland or half an hour from Auckland Airport.
The Auckland Museum houses the world’s largest Maori and Pacific Island collection of carvings, canoes, and other treasures, serving as a record of both human history and a natural science catalogue. It lies proudly on top of a hill known as Pukekawa, surrounded by an enormous public park, the Auckland Domain.
The museum itself is an iconic heritage building. Its history dates back to the 1800s, when it was first established within a small cottage in nearby Grafton. It moved to its current location in 1929, constructed using funds raised by locals in honour of their war dead. An intricate frieze of scenes from the world wars rings the exterior of the building, representing all the armed services. The names of battles in which New Zealanders fought are inscribed above each window. The main entrance features a poppy design (the symbol of death at war) and is repeated throughout inside.
The museum is open every day from 10am-5pm except on Christmas Day. A $10 donation is suggested. Guided tours are also available. There is parking around the building and surrounding grounds, which are less than 30 minutes’ drive from Auckland Airport and only minutes from downtown Auckland.