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Must-See Museums in Auckland


A woman enjoys an aquarium while visiting Auckland in New Zealand
Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

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Hi, I'm Nicole!

Nicole R. Zimmerman, born in São Paulo, Brazil and raised (mostly) in Northern California, is a queer Bay Area–based travel journalist, copywriter, and essayist. Nicole has written for Viator/Tripadvisor, Hipcamp, TripSavvy, Grove Collaborative, Insider, and the Los Angeles Times. Her work appears in anthologies such as The Best Women’s Travel Writing and in numerous literary journals including Creative Nonfiction and The Rumpus.

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Centered around two main harbors, the North Island’s largest city is punctuated by the Sky Tower. A sprinkling of diverse museums informs visitors about New Zealand’s seafaring history, transportation, and flora and fauna. Here are our top picks.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

The exterior of Auckland War Memorial. Photo: mastapiece / Shutterstock

Housed in a grand neoclassical building, the war memorial exhibits are located on three expansive levels of the Auckland Museum. Go to learn about the Indigenous origins of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand), and its colonization by European settlers.

How to Visit: Join a city sightseeing tour, or go on your own and add on a Māori cultural performance.

Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)

Inside Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT). Photo: krug_100 / Shutterstock

MOTAT features a century’s worth of New Zealand’s transportation systems, from 19th-century fire engines and steam trains to a variety of aircraft. Ride the working tramway, and browse technological artifacts at the Victorian village.

How to Visit: Book a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour and make the museum one of your stops.

Wintergarden Pavilion

The grand Wintergarden Pavilion. Photo: trabantos / Shutterstock

Situated in Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, the Wintergardens showcase native and exotic tropical and temperate plants in two Victorian-style glass greenhouses established in 1913. The New Zealand ferns are a highlight.

How to Visit: Join a small-group city sightseeing tour.

Odyssey Sensory Maze

Photo: Sean McDonald / Tripadvisor

Meander through a dozen different rooms that make up this sensory maze. Fun for visitors of all ages, a variety of sound effects, optical illusions, and mysterious scents challenge your brain.

How to Visit: Save time and money by prebooking your admission.

SEA LIFE® Kelly Tarlton’s

A look inside SEA LIFE® Kelly Tarlton’s. Photo: NataliaCatalina.com / Shutterstock

Jellyfish, stingrays, and king penguins are all part of the magic at this aquarium. Explore nine themed zones, visit the Antarctic Encounter, wander under a shark tunnel, and touch starfish at the rock pool.

How to Visit: Upgrade your admission for a shark diving experience.

Sculptureum

An outdoor exhibit at Sculptureum. Photo: Natalia Marshall / Shutterstock

Walk along the Garden of Creative Diversity at this inspiring sculpture museum, about an hour’s drive north of Auckland in Matakana. Indoors, you’ll see galleries mixed with plants, from glassworks to modern masterpieces.

How to Visit: On weekends, check out gallery highlights on a guided tour.

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See all Auckland tours
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Things to do in Auckland
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Don’t Miss These Must-Do Activities in Auckland
Don’t Miss These Must-Do Activities in Auckland