Level 1

The Void

A major acquisition in 2006 was Bill Culbert and Ralph Hotere’s collaborative, site-specific sculptural installation VOID. This was commissioned from the artists and is permanently featured in the space known as the Void between Te Papa’s Level 2 Wellington Foyer and the gallery on Level 6.


Be sure to visit our two onsite shops. Te Papa Store (Level 1) features works from New Zealand’s finest artists and authors. Te Papa Kids’ Store (Level 2) is full of educational and fun gifts for kids.

Awesome Forces

New Zealand is a young and active land from a geologist’s point of view. Awesome Forces shows how plate tectonics cause the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and erosion that have shaped one of the most dynamic landscapes in the world.

Check out the Earthquake House!

Rather than the rattle and hum of a real tremor, many visitors prefer the Earthquake House!

Whale Skeleton

The 20.6-metre pygmy blue whale skeleton hanging in Mountains to Sea, on Level 2, was that of an adolescent male. Some pygmy! Fully grown females of this subspecies grow to twenty-seven metres long, while the males grow to twenty-four metres. So he had a little way to go. By comparison, the largest female southern blue whale ever caught stretched to 33.58 metres. Blue whales are the biggest animals that ever lived.

100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa

Learn about one of the first dinosaurs ever discovered, see a new spider species, and be generally fascinated by everything else on this great DVD. Available from Te Papa Store, Level 1.

The Endeavour cannon

This cannon connects us with the Endeavour’s worst moment on Cook’s first voyage of discovery. At 11 pm on 11 June 1770, the Endeavour foundered on the Great Barrier reef in Australia. It was the worst fear of the crew, on a lone ship in unknown waters half a world away from home. Nearly 200 years later, an American team went on a search for everything that the crew threw overboard in order to refloat the ship. Six cannons, as well as metal and stone ballast, were recovered from the site.

Feel like a coffee?

Up the steps is Level 4 Espresso. Open every day of the year, 10am–5.30pm, and 10am–8.30pm on Thursdays. Relax in the heart of the Museum with a coffee or wine and light refreshments.

Phar Lap Skeleton

Horse-racing history is to the fore on Level 4. Phar Lap means ‘lightning’ in Thai. He started life in 1926 on a stud farm near Timaru, but soon jumped the Tasman. Sydney trainer Harry Telford had faith that Phar Lap’s pedigree would produce a winner, but in the end Phar Lap became a legend.

He had several wins, one in record time, then finished third in his first Melbourne Cup. He won the prestigious Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico in March 1932, clocking up another record time. Invitations to race in the eastern United States flooded in. But on 5 April he suddenly died, in agonizing pain, possibly from eating poisoned grass. (Although suspicion lingered, the real cause was never established.)

Watch time-lapse footage of the reconstruction of Phar Lap’s skeleton.

Te Marae and Touchstone

Te Marae offers an experience that’s unique within Te Papa and indeed the world. It’s Te Papa’s response to the challenge of creating an authentic yet inclusive marae (communal meeting place) for the twenty-first century. The space comprises a marae atea (place of encounter) and a wharenui (meeting house). It is also a living exhibition that interprets for visitors the meaning of the marae experience. It also showcases stunning contemporary Māori art and design.

Te Marae pounamu (greenstone)

Dip your hands in the water, scoop up some silica sands, and continue the work of more than nine million other people – rubbing the outer rind away to expose the green rock underneath.

Tiger Moth

This Tiger Moth, ZK-AJO, was built as an RNZAF trainer in 1941. It’s still flyable. In its working life from 1949-56, it flew some 6000 hours and scattered nearly 28,000 tonnes of fertiliser and grass seed. The widespread use of aerial topdressing, especially in hill country, was a hugely important factor in New Zealand’s post-war economic development.

Where is the art?

In the Arts Lounge and Arts Studio, you can find out about art ideas, give your opinions, ask questions, and explore a range of art activities. For instance, young art lovers can dive into The New Zealand Art Activity Book: 100+ Ideas for Creative Kids – available from Te Papa Store.

The Mixing Room

This exhibition started when Te Papa joined forces with the ChangeMakers Refugee Youth Forum in February 2009. Participants played around with all sorts of ideas, which eventually gelled into the concept for an exhibition: The Mixing Room: Stories from young refugees in New Zealand. It opened at Te Papa on 10 April 2010.

Feel like a coffee?

Around the corner is Level 4 Espresso - open every day of the year, 10am–5.30pm, and 10am–8.30pm on Thursdays. This is a great place in which to relax with a coffee or wine and light refreshments.

Te Aka Matua Reading Room

Te Aka Matua Reading Room is Te Papa's research and reference resource, with particular strengths in New Zealand, Māori, and Pacific history, natural history, art, photography, and museum studies. It is open to the public by appointment from Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm.

Make an appointment

Go to www.tepapa.govt.nz/librarybooking to make an appointment to visit Te Aka Matua Reading Room


Explore New Zealand’s nature, art, history, and cultural heritage at Te Papa. With loads of information at your fingertips you can find your way around with our interactive map. Use the map to guide you around Te Papa by logging on to our free Wi-Fi when you arrive.

Online map - Explore Te Papa   PDF – Explore Te Papa (500 kb)