Pygmy Blue Whale, (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda)

Mountains to Sea 

Long-term exhibition
Level 2
Nature; Family 

Mountains to Sea presents New Zealand's diverse range of creatures and plants in a sweep from its high places to the deep underwater off its shores. The exhibition offers you a journey through six major kinds of ecosystem - alpine, bush, freshwater, coastal, open ocean, and deep sea.

Over 2500 native plants and animals make up the displays, ranging from minuscule insects to the gigantic skeleton of a 21-metre pygmy blue whale. The displays are a visual feast of natural activity - the diversity of seabirds is presented in a sweeping flight, kea are shown ripping into a backpack, male kaka fight, mako sharks mate. Bush insects and marine shellfish appear en masse like jewelled collections.

Mountains to Sea Exhibit
Inside the Mountains to Sea exhibit

The various natural settings are strikingly represented, animated by sound and lighting effects. You walk among dramatically designed tall tree ferns, gigantic beech, kauri, and rata trees. You hear forest animals, flowing water, the sea. You have the impression of dappled sunlight coming through a leafy canopy. The underwater scenes suggest mystery and depth. Going up the ramp in the centre of the exhibition gives a treetop perspective on the exhibition.

Throughout the exhibition you can listen to lively commentaries recorded by children on interesting features and behaviour associated with various animals. You can also have a go at assembling your version of a bird on a touch screen computer interactive.

Finally, there's a glimpse behind the scenes at Te Papa. The view into the X-ray Room reveals the marine mammal collections where skeletons of all kinds of whales, dolphins, and seals are housed.

See Mountains to Sea presented by What Now (video starting at 0.43 seconds)