Located a short walk from where the Waikato River meets Lake Taupo, the Taupo Museum holds the history and culture of the Taupo region for visitors to learn and experience. The museum and art gallery’s many exhibits tell the stories of the local Maori tribes, the town’s early industrial years, and the volcanic origins of the lake itself.
Visitors are welcomed to Taupo Museum and Art Gallery by Te Aroha o Rongoheikume, a traditional Maori meeting house carved by master carver Tene Waitere. Beyond that meeting house are galleries full of local art and displays that tell the stories of the region’s history and culture. The Tuwharetoa Gallery holds numerous treasures (taonga) from the local Tuwharetoa tribe; the Volcanic Secrets exhibit tells the story of the Taupo supervolcano that formed the nearby lake and includes a virtual field trip of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing; and there are displays dedicated to Taupo’s community and its industrial past.
Spend some time exploring the art exhibitions in the museum’s Art Gallery and Niven Room. Both spaces are home to revolving exhibits displaying a range of local, national, and international art and cultural artifacts. Outside, walk around the Ora Garden of Wellbeing, which won a gold medal at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2004.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Taupo Museum is ideal for art and culture aficionados.
Admission to the museum is discounted for students and seniors.
The museum has a range of children’s programs, including a well-regarded Dinosaur Hunt, during school holidays.
You can purchase souvenirs and gifts at the museum’s gift shop, He Taonga Hi.
Most of the museum is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The museum is located on Story Place, right in the center of Taupo in Tongariro North Domain, only a short walk from the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre. A range of buses run to the city center; check local bus company BusIt’s website for timetables. If driving, there is parking on-site.
When to Get There
The Taupo Museum is open daily from 10am until 4:30pm except on Good Friday, Christmas Day, and the morning of Anzac Day. Try visiting in summer, when the Ora Garden is in its best light. If you’re traveling with kids, look into the museum’s comprehensive and children’s program that they run during New Zealand school holiday periods.
Check Out the Ora Garden of Wellbeing
The Ora Garden is a Garden of National Significance, full of native plants and geothermal features including hot mineral pools and steaming thermal terraces. The garden also holds a number of sculptures made of native timber, ponga trees, and bronze, depicting and paying tribute to the guardians (kaitiaki) protecting native forests across the country.