Quick, what do Moana and New Zealand have in common? Answer: They both have a history linked to the sea.
Okay, that was random, but there are only so many ways that you could use pop culture to sell an attraction like the New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Inaugurated in 1993, the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Anaui a Tangaroa (whew, what a mouthful) is Auckland’s premier destination for all navy and seafaring aficionados. Fittingly enough, it’s located on Hobson Wharf and is adjacent to Central Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. In case you’re wondering, that Maori phrase its name translates to “Holder of the Treasures of Tangaroa,” with the latter being the Maori Sea God. (See? That Moana comparison wasn’t so left field, after all.)
It was Thomas Lance “Rodney” Wilson who founded the museum with his fundraising efforts back in 1989. It would officially open its doors about four years later, just in time for the 1993 America’s Cup regatta, which, as luck would have it, was being held in Auckland that year.
Today, the sleek, futuristic structure houses exhibitions that pay tribute to New Zealand’s maritime history, from the first Polynesian explorers and settlers to present day yachting successes at the aforementioned America’s Cup.
The Hawaiki Exhibition, for instance, displays replicas of the intricate voyaging canoes that brought in the first settlers from Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia. If you loved the seafaring vessels in 2016’s “Moana” (and there’s that reference again), you’ll be able to get a look at these floating works of art up close.
There’s also an exhibit dedicated to Sir Peter Blake, New Zealand’s most celebrated mariner. As an exemplary ocean racer and a dedicated environmentalist, Blake brought great acclaim to his birth country through his remarkable achievements in the yachting world. The “Blue Water, Black Magic” exhibition also showcases the cutting-edge seacraft design and nautical prowess that has allowed the country to dominate just about all the significant blue-water sailing events in the world at one time or another.
You can also engage in some interactive activities in between meandering down the halls of the display corridors. There are various areas within the museum where you can try designing a yacht, reclining in a kiwi-style bach, hoisting the sails, hearing the cannon fire, and “battening down the hatches” in the rocking cabin.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be a proper maritime experience if you couldn’t get out on the water, and the New Zealand Maritime Museum obliges by taking its visitors on daily (save Sundays) hour-long voyages of the harbor on the Ted Ashby, a fully-restored scow.
The New Zealand Maritime Museum is located at Corner Quay & Hobson Streets, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010. Opening hours are from 10 am to 5 pm every day, with the last entries being admitted at 4 pm.