Te Papa a feast for all the senses


Ihave been to Te Papa many times, but there is noth­ing like see­ing it fresh through the eyes of a child.

took the kids in for a visit re­cently be­cause I thought Ol­lie (21 months) was old enough to show some in­ter­est in the ex­hibits.

In fact, he spent two hours there in a con­stant state of ex­cite­ment. He ran be­hind his big brother, point­ing at ev­ery­thing and try­ing his hard­est to de­scribe what he could see and ask me ques­tions – dif­fi­cult when he can barely say fish or bird, let alone, ‘‘Tell me ev­ery­thing you know about the colos­sal squid’’.

We spent most of our visit ex­plor­ing the Moun­tains to Sea ex­hibit, look­ing at all the na­tive wildlife we have in New Zealand.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is a feast for the senses, with so much to look at, touch and hear. There are mod­els of an­i­mals, skele­tons and taxi­dermy crea­tures en­closed in cases and hang­ing from the ceil­ing, bird sounds play­ing and a fan­tas­tic tree hut walk­way to ex­plore.

Many ar­eas have but­tons to press to hear in­for­ma­tion about the var­i­ous an­i­mals.

While I’ve al­ways thought it a lit­tle creepy in the past, I have a new­found re­spect for taxi­dermy.

The life­like na­ture of the an­i­mals re­ally made all the pic­tures the kids have seen in books seem a lit­tle more real for them. Ol­lie was very taken with the kiwi and other birds, though he found the wild pig, com­plete with sound ef­fects, a lit­tle scary.

The pygmy blue whale skele­ton sus­pended from the ceil­ing re­ally helped the kids put the size of a whale in per­spec­tive, a far cry from watch­ing the six-inch ver­sions swim­ming on our lap­top screen.

Bai­ley now wants to plan trips to Sea World to see real dol­phins and whales. He has promised to con­trib­ute the $ 5 in his piggy bank to travel costs.

Na­ture Space is ad­ja­cent to the Moun­tains to Sea ex­hibit and is full of hands-on, in­ter­ac­tive ac­tivi- ties for the kids, fo­cus­ing on the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

There are puzzles, books, draw­ers full of rock pool crea­tures and in­sects, com­puter touch screens and much more to do with the his­tory of our planet and how we can bet­ter look af­ter it.

The boys thor­oughly en­joyed climb­ing in the mas­sive fi­bre­glass model of a blue whale’s heart. I didn’t go in­side, fear­ful that the largest part of my anatomy might get stuck in a ven­tri­cle.

The gi­ant floor map of New Zealand was a fan­tas­tic tool for teach­ing Bai­ley about the dif­fer­ent places in New Zealand. Hope­fully we’ll no longer be hear­ing, ‘‘ Hey Mum, can we catch the train to Nel­son to­day?’’

Other high­lights visit in­cluded see­ing the John Brit­ten mo­tor­cy­cle, act­ing as biose­cu­rity in­spec- tors look­ing for un­in­vited crit­ters in the Stow­aways Con­tainer, pre­tend­ing to be an alien us­ing the in­ter­ac­tive Sur­vivor com­puter in the Blood Earth Fire ex­hibit, and find­ing out about tec­tonic plates in the Awe­some Forces ex­hibit.

Not to for­get the all-im­por­tant trip to the cafe, where we found the ‘‘pick 5 items for $7.50’’ kids lunch bag a pretty good deal.

We re­ally only scraped the sur­face and vis­ited a small por­tion of the mu­seum.

Te Papa has so much to of­fer all ages and in­ter­ests.

It is def­i­nitely top of my day’’ ac­tiv­ity list.



Ex­plor­ing: Bai­ley, left and Ol­lie couldn’t get enough of the Te Papa ex­hibits.

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