Subject: New Zealand Te Papa Museum
If you're visiting New Zealand for a short time, make sure you visit Te Papa (Our Place: The Museum of New Zealand) on the waterfront in Wellington. Without doubt, the coolest museum I've ever been to. Why (In no particular order):

1) It's 99% free. The only charges are for the 'rides' like the virtual bungee, future rush, dragon boat racing etc, and a donation(?) for the hire of headphones, which give you information about many of the displays

2) It's great for kids... it's not a stuff old traditional museum... lot's for the kids to do, lots of interactive activities, and some special areas set aside with activities for them. The first time I went, I heard young Mãori kids totally engrossed in the nature displays, and speaking Mãori too.

3) Te Marae (Meeting house)... I've been formally welcomed onto this Marae, in a traditional ceremony, which was very moving. This Marae is a blend of old and new styles, and is truly representative of New Zealand society. have a close look at the carvings.

4) The earthquake simulation room.

5) The kiwi icons exhibition... worth the wait to get in... made me want to stand up and applaud... not something I'd usually do... try arriving at opening time (10 am, I think) during the week, to avoid the cues, and head straight for this one... ask a Te Papa guide, or anyone in Te papa uniforms to help...they will.

6) The collection of New Zealand art... this is a bit of a task to find though.

7) The Community Gallery, showcasing various smaller cultural groups who are part of New Zealand society. The first was about the Chinese community, This was extended beyond it's originally planned 12 months, due to it's popularity. I think the current one is on the Dutch community, but I don't know for sure.

8) It's close to the city (Take the yellow bus, which does a circuit of the central city, and goes past a number of important parts of Wellington)

9) The Treaty of Waitangi display, and history of race relations in NZ. again, this is a bit hard to find... it's behind the Treaty display, and up the stairs.

10) The great views of Wellington City.

Erica