Behind-the-scenes at the Te Papa Museum

Wellington and its surrounding areas are steeped in Mâori legend. Oral tradition states that Whatonga, a chief of the Kurahaupo waka was the first person to settle the lands at the tip of the North Island. The area was known as Te Upoko-o-te-Ika, “the head of the fish.” Another legend says that Kupe, a great Polynesian explorer, first sailed into Wellington harbor sometime around 900 A.D. and named it Te Whanganui-a-Tara. When Europeans first arrived in 1839, they found a thriving Mâori settlement along the shore. Due to the indigenous people’s continuous occupation and rights through gifting and conquest, they remain the recognized “tangata whenua” (people of the land) of Wellington. Mâori customs, architecture, language and art are living and breathing throughout Wellington. Learn more about these indigenous people with an exclusive half-day private tour of the Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s National Museum. This in-depth journey offers a look at Te Papa and to experience their taonga (Mâori cultural treasures). From historic, artistic, and contemporary perspectives, this hosted tour will enrich your understanding of what makes New Zealand’s Mâori culture so unique and gives you an opportunity to engage with the collections staff. Just short drive away from the pier, you'll travel along Wellington's scenic ocean- view streets in your air-conditioned vehicle and disembark at the museum overlooking the waterfront. Once inside you’ll marvel at the six stories of displays dedicated to New Zealand’s culture and environment including the esteemed home of the harenui Te Hau-ki-Tûranga, a large carved wharenui (meeting house) that dates back to 1842, making it the world’s oldest surviving such building in the world. Te Papa is so integral to the city and its heritage, the museum is affectionately referred to as Te Papa Tongarewa, which in Mâori means "the place of treasures of this land." During this unique tour you’ll follow a friendly and knowledgeable curator into the heart of the museum for an up close and intimate look behind the scenes at exhibits showcasing the country's people, cultures, landforms, flora, and fauna. As a respected repository of one of the world’s largest collections devoted to the country’s indigenous Mâori the curator will bring the stories of New Zealand’s land, its people and Mâori iwis (tribes) to life as each item is shared with you. Their team has learned how to manage and care for Maori treasures in culturally appropriate ways. At the conclusion of your tour, you’ll rejoin your coach and enjoy a short ride back to your ship as you contemplate your rich and enlightening visit.
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  • Duration

    3.5 hours

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  • Price

    Adult from $339.99
    Children (12 & under) from $339.99



Special Notes

Tour duration is approximately 4 hours and will include a scenic city drive with photo stops at the Parliament grounds and at Mt. Victoria for stunning 360 degree views of Wellington city and harbour. Please be advised that in the Maori culture, members of the public, men and women, for their own well-being, may be restricted from entering the collection stores from time to time especially if they are experiencing physical challenges – for example, anyone who is unwell or frail, women who are pregnant or menstruating, should refrain from visiting. Minimum age is 16 years. Cameras, audio and video recorders are not permitted in the back of house Maori collection rooms.Your guide will explain the Maori cultural protocols and customs to be observed during your visit.