When it comes to cheap as chips in New Zealand, you really can't beat museums for value for money. There are some great examples in both the North and South Island, but in this article we are going to take you through a whistle-stop tour of the best of the North.
You can't go past the grand-daddy, the National Museum of New Zealand , Te Papa in Wellington. Entry to Te Papa is entirely free. There is something for everyone here, from the famous record-breaking Britten bike, to the colossal squid, and extensive art collections. The highly rated 'Gallipoli – The Scale of our War' exhibition, a collaboration with Weta Workshop, is on until April 2019.
Another Wellington highlight is the Weta Cave. This is the hub of Weta Workshop's tours in Miramar. They run tours which have a range of prices, but a visit to the Weta Cave is free and features a showcase of collectibles and props from famous movies by Weta Workshop, and a behind-the-scenes film.
Something different is on offer at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. This is a free public gallery featuring contemporary art and culture. It includes stunning outdoor art work in adjoining Dowse Square.
One of New Zealand's most unique museums, the Tawhiti Museum is a little off the beaten track in Hawera, Taranaki. This is the vision of one man, artist Nigel Ogle, who had developed scenes of New Zealand's history and heritage in life-sized exhibits and scale models. The nearest rental depot to Hawera is New Plymouth.
Rotorua and Taupo in the central North Island are towns who know how to entertain visitors. They also have great regional museums. Rotorua's museum is housed in a historic bathhouse building, in the Government Gardens and has stunning views of the lake. The building can be explored from the basement to the rooftop and includes a cinematic experience. Taupo Museum includes the Ora Garden, a Maori themed garden of national significance which won a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.
Back in the big smoke of Auckland, you'll find the Auckland War Memorial Museum, a stunning building in the Auckland Domain. If you are a New Zealander from out of town you can book a 'Moa' package, which includes admission, a highlights tour and a Maori cultural performance for $40. Overseas visitors will pay $55 for the same package. The highly acclaimed Auckland Art Gallery has free entry, and also offers a free tour twice a day.