I love the Auckland War Memorial Museum so much I became a member last year. We made it one of our first stops on our recent visit to Auckland. There are so many diverse exhibits and those on the first floor change regularly so there is always something new. Even in the exhibits I have seen before I notice something new–like the room dedicated to Sir Edmund Hillary’s expedition and follow up work building schools and hospitals in Nepal.
My mom and her friends expressed an interest in Maori culture and the Auckland Museum has an extensive collection of Maori art and historical artifacts. We also got tickets for the Maori Experience, a cultural performance by a talented group of young men and women. They sing and dance and explain the history of Maori traditions. When I lived in St Heliers I took a introduction to Maori class at Selwyn College taught by a woman from Ngāti Whātua, the local iwi. I recognized many of the songs, karanga, and dancing as they are still part of community celebrations. They ended the performance with a rousing demonstration of the haka. The explanation of how the haka, performed by both men and women, was an important part of sending off the young men into battle, helped me understand better why the haka is so motivational to the All Blacks rugby team. Afterward the performers went out into the hall and answered questions (and posed for my Mom’s pictures).
They perform 4 times a day and there are admission packages that combine tickets for admission with the performance for some cost savings.
Please use that cost savings to eat at the cafe. The food and coffee are delicious. Or shop at the gift shops. They have some of the best selection of real New Zealand jewelry, woolen items and other great gifts for yourself or your people at home. (Much better than the “made in China schlock that crowds the shops on Queen Street.)
I can easily spend a day at the museum and because we limited this visit to a half-day we did not have time to look at the natural history collections. The volcano exhibit is very popular.
Do not miss the Auckland Museum–and remember that the revolving door at the War Memorial entrance stops if you touch it. Always good for a laugh unless you are the one caught in it!