Levels 1 and 2
Bush City is a living, growing exhibition that brings New Zealand's great outdoors into the city. Take in some of the wonders of our natural environment, from native bush to volcanic landscape. Cross a swing-bridge, visit a glow-worm cave or a wetland, climb a lava flow, dig for fossils. Or simply have a quiet time in the fresh air.
In Bush City, you take a short walk through a recreated natural world. Examples of New Zealand's rocky landforms are extensively overplanted with native trees and shrubs. The thick growth offers a hint of the jungle-like feel of New Zealand’s rainforest. Most of these plants would have been seen on the harbour’s edge 200 years ago.
Examples of our volcanic landscape are here for exploration – a lava flow to clamber up and layered ash falls from the central North Island volcanoes. Budding palaeontologists will love the Fossil Dig, where a true-to-life replica of a giant fossilised marine reptile, the mosasaur, can be uncovered.
For more adventure, there’s a crawl through the cool and damp limestone cave, inspired by the Waitomo caves. Dripping water, darkened passageways, stalactites, glow-worms, cave wētā, and the bones of extinct flightless moa all add to the authenticity of this underground experience.
A large rock wall, buckled by the earth processes that formed New Zealand, acts as a backdrop to the oldest exhibits at Te Papa. These colourful rocks, some dating back almost 600 million years, are there to climb on and embrace.
Bush City is a surprising opportunity to wander outdoors and be surrounded by nature in the centre of the capital city.
Te Papa developed components of Bush City in collaboration with our partner GNS Science.
How many native trees and shrubs are planted in Bush City?
Approximately 1,400. Plant varieties range from wetland plants, lush tree ferns and native trees, and shrubs and wetland rushes, through to arid beach-type plants. Most of these plants would have been seen in the Wellington region 200 years ago. The vegetation has been planted in a way that thickens as you walk further into it, to experience the jungle-like qualities of our native forests with their abundance of climbing and epiphytic plants.