Recently in the news due to its acquisition of Wanda, the giant 2.4kg goldfish speared in the wild in Wānaka, the Otago Museum is clearly not your cliché stuffy museum – though some of its exhibits the most notable are, like Wanda, stuffed.
If taxidermy isn’t your thing, however, don’t let that put you off: with over 1.5 million items in its eight free galleries, this museum has something for everyone, and certainly not. a place to hurry.
There are plenty of opportunities to get acquainted, especially at the Tūhura Interactive Science Center, the largest of its kind in the country. It features a three-story slide, a bicycle skeleton, and 45 tactile exhibits.
There’s also a tiered butterfly house to walk through, home to a thousand colorful tropical butterflies, as well as giant tarantulas and centipedes. There is also Australasia’s only 3D planetarium, offering a wide variety of shows.
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Because there’s a good chance you’ll never stand on top of Mount Everest, but you can look at the camera Sir Ed Hillary used to prove he did. A sturdy little Kodak Retina is one of the many items on this expedition.
Or you can watch Sonia and Sultan in the Victorian-style animal loft and read how these lions escaped from a circus in Lawrence in 1978 and had to be slaughtered on the city streets.
See a model of the fateful ferry Wow, a marble head of Alexander the Great dating from 200 BC, a 17-meter Tōtara war canoe, and a turtle-shell mask from the Torres Strait Islands adorned with cassowary feathers.
Children are especially welcomed with special events during the school holidays, while adults are treated to late-night parties, chats, and even yoga with the butterflies in the tropical house.
Wanda herself won’t be on display until early next year, after being quarantined in the freezer. Prepare for the heat in the butterfly house. Discover the guided tours.
On the way / nearby
Discover more history at nearby Olveston House, or head to the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, passing the charming train station which is an architectural treat in itself and is also home to the NZ Sports Hall of Fame.
Enjoy the fresh air and flowers at Dunedin Botanical Garden or outdoor cultivation at Lan Yuan Chinese Garden.
The museum is right next to the university, so of course there is a good choice of cafes and bars to cool off; or simply stroll along George Street for a shopping spree en route to the art gallery.
Admission to the museum’s eight galleries is free, but there is a separate fee for the Science Center and the Planetarium, or a combined fee for both of $ 20 adult, $ 13 child, $ 55 family. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Best time to go
Anytime you want to be informed, entertained, surprised or distracted. Don’t miss the shows and special events at the Planetarium, which are more than stars and planets. See: otagomuseum.nz
Stay Safe: New Zealand is currently subject to restrictions related to Covid-19. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.