Step into this imaginative and evocative atmosphere as you explore the unexpected and unusual stories of the greater Wellington region.
From the extraordinary hunting feats of Neville ‘Stag’ Spooner to the pioneering contraception methods of Dame Margaret Sparrow, Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui celebrates the creativity and uniqueness of Wellington.
Neville 'Stag' Spooner
Te Upoko o te Ika
Te Upoko o te Ika a Māui, which translates as the head of Māui’s fish, is another name for the Wellington region. It refers to a Māori myth in which the demi-god Māui hooked a giant fish that, when pulled to the surface, formed what is now known as the North Island or Te Ika a Māui.
screens daily every 40 minutes
This 4 minute film experience follows ‘a day in the life’ of our city from sunrise to sunset, told through the eyes of the people of Wellington. Developed in partnership with the New Zealand Film Archive it draws on archival material that spans 100 years of Wellington’s history.
now on display
The replica crown jewels, which formed the central exhibit from our summer pop-up café, have moved to a permanent home.
The overwhelmingly positive feedback we received regarding the jewels means they're now on display as part of our popular Telling Tales exhibition - including information on the 1939 Centennial Exhibition for which they were made.
See the replica crown jewels, made for the Centennial Exhibition in 1939, on YouTube.
Climb aboard the dinghy, man the helm, watch a film and step into a wonderland of curious maritime objects in Jack's boathouse - the fun interactive area named after the first curator of the former maritime museum.
Nestled among the boutique shops in the Old Bank Arcade is the original archaeological site of Plimmer's Ark.
The bow section of the Inconstant ship, bottles and other artifacts, and a 'pepper's ghost' presentation tell the story of John Plimmer and his ark.
screens every 30 minutes
On 10 April 1968, the inter-island ferry, the Wahine, sailed into a savage storm and sank at the entrance to Wellington harbour. Fifty-one people died on the day and a further two people died from injuries sustained during the sinking. This dramatic documentary details the tragic event.
screens every 30 minutes
Māori creation legends are told in A Millennium Ago - a dramatic 12-minute show with special effects. Learn about the Taniwha that created Wellington’s harbour and hear how Māui tricked his grandmother into giving him fire.
can you spot the rat?
Step into a 100 year old cargo warehouse; complete with authentic sights, sounds and smells – including virtual vermin!
The Bond Store
Did you know... two time capsules are hidden inside The Bond Store. One was placed in the building’s foundations in 1891. A second was added 100 years later as the Harbour Board marked its centenary.
the maritime floor
Voyage through 800 years of Wellington's maritime history, hop into the captain's cabin and marvel at the 4.5m model of the Pamir. Then step into a wonderland of maritime objects from the collection in Jack's boathouse - named after the first curator of the former maritime museum.
The Captain's Cabin
101 fascinating yarns
Follow the timeline of significant events of 20th Century Wellington: when Cinerama was the snazziest new thing, you could ride an elephant at the Zoo, and 3693 bodies were disinterred to build a motorway.
Discover the stories behind New Zealand's nuclear-free stance
The 1913 Strike - War on the Wharves
Find out what daily life was like in 1900s Wellington: in the classroom, at home, at work and at leisure. Pick up a telephone and hear from people a century ago.
Queens Wharf - taken from the roof of the Bond Store