Friday, 11 May 2012

The New Zealand Diaries: No.12 - A day at the Museum

Whenever you go on holiday or take a trip to a place you haven't been to before, the best way to find out all about the local area, the people and the history behind a town or city is to visit the local museum.

Museums in general, I think, get a bad press from a lot of people. Some claim they're boring, some claim they're too old and outdated. Sadly, this has tarnished the museum culture, but with many families looking for 'free' and 'fun' place to discover, museum's are starting to thrive again.

And the Otago Museum in downtown Dunedin was no different. A fantastic museum with displays, artifacts and exhibits on everything. Whether you wanted to find out more about the Maori tribes that once lived in the area, or more about the extinct wildlife, there is so much to see and do.

With over three floors of exhibitions, we started our way at the top, working our way down. The first few exhibits give you a feel about the industry behind the South Island; beer, mining and fishing. One room had dozens of boat displays on show, complete with the skeleton of a whale - which was truly fantastic.

In other rooms, the Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the South Pacific - the tribes and colonies from places like Samoa. With authentic costumes and instruments used by the tribes, you get a feel for the unique culture of each separate colony.

Moving on, a fantastic stuffed animal collection featuring small mammals to birds and fish, the collection is by far the biggest I have ever seen. Sadly, it was the only chance I got to see a real life Kiwi.

The museum also houses a fantastic interactive section, complete with hands-on science exhibits for children and adults alike. It's not free, but it's certainly worth the money. Here, families can see what the effects of sun stroke and smoking can have on their body with the fantastic 'Your Face Here' interactive exhibition. Elsewhere, the outside butterfly enclosure offers guests the chance to see a colourful collection of butterflies enjoying the sunshine. Be warned, they will land on you!

The museum has so much to offer, and even after a few hours wondering around, I had learnt so much about New Zealand then I thought humanely possible!

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