With a variety of museums in Auckland to choose from, seven stand out as must-see destinations for both locals and visitors. These include cultural and historical overviews, hands-on science, classic and contemporary art, and our southern hemisphere night sky.
Auckland is the country’s largest city, so it should come as no surprise that it is home some of the best museums in New Zealand. However, Te Papa Tongarewa (the New Zealand National Museum) is located in the capital city of Wellington.
Auckland Museum (War Memorial Museum)
The Auckland Museum is home to an impressive Māori collection, as well as the extensive history of the flora, fauna, and people of New Zealand. The top floor houses the War Memorial Museum, displaying military histories and serving as a tribute to those who served in New Zealand's military.
Hours: 10am to 5pm daily - Closed on Christmas day
Cost: International adult entry is $25 with discounts for children and families. Free for Auckland residents, donations requested for other New Zealand residents
Location: The Auckland Domain, Parnell
Maritime Museum Auckland
This island nation's nautical history comes to life at the New Zealand maritime museum. It takes us from the dugout canoes that brought the first Polynesian people only 1,000 years ago to modern world-class racing vessels, including America's Cup. There is an opportunity (paid) to sail on a heritage vessel.
Hours: 10am-5pm daily (last entry 4 pm) - Closed on Christmas day
Cost: Adult entry is $20 with discounts for seniors, students, children, and families. Free for Auckland residents
Location: Corner of Quay and Hobson St, Viaduct Harbour
MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology Auckland)
MOTAT features the best of New Zealand creativity. A hands-on family-friendly science museum featuring technological and aviation displays, offering insights through 150+ years of New Zealand European history.
Hours: 10am-5pm daily (last entry 4.30 pm) - Closed on Christmas day
Cost: Adult entry is $19 with discounts for seniors, students, children, and families
Location: 805 Great North Rd, Western Springs
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
From classic to contemporary, the Auckland Art Gallery houses over 15,000 artworks. The artwork ranges from painting and sculpture to multimedia. It is the country's biggest collection of both domestic and international artwork.
Hours: 10am-5pm daily - Closed on Christmas day
Cost: International adult entry is $20 with discounts for seniors and students. Free for New Zealand residents and all children age 12 and under
Location: Corner of Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
Stardome Observatory and Planetarium
With both live and pre-filmed planetarium shows, Stardome offers a unique experience. We love the outdoor telescope viewing following some of the planetarium shows. It also houses educational space exhibits.
Hours: Open daily, although hours vary by day, with night hours from Tuesday to Sunday
Cost: Adult entry is $2 for exhibits, $12 for most shows with discounts for seniors, students, children, and families
Location: 670 Manukau Rd, One Tree Hill Domain
Howick Historical Village
A living museum takes us back to New Zealand's colonial days of the mid-1800s. Open daily, it really comes alive on the monthly live days featuring costumed villagers in character.
Hours: 10am-4pm daily - Closed on many public holidays.
Cost: Adult entry is $16 with discounts for seniors, students, children, and families
Location: Lloyd Elsmore Park, Bells Rd, Pakuranga
Te Uru, Waitakere Contemporary Gallery
This award-winning, purpose-built contemporary gallery changes its exhibits several times annually, making each visit unique. Overlooking sub-tropical rainforest and utilising both natural and diffused light as well as open spaces, it creates an inviting atmosphere.
It is well off the beaten path, and difficult to get to without private transportation. However, Te Uru makes for an unusual and fascinating stop when taking a day trip out to Auckland's west coast.
Hours: 10am-4.30pm daily - Closed on Christmas day, Good Friday, and ANZAC Day morning
Location: Corner of Quay and, Hobson St, Viaduct Harbour
Auckland map of museums
Getting to museums in Auckland
Auckland city has an excellent public transportation system in the central city, and there are buses or trains that can get you to all of the Auckland museums on this page. The easiest way to find your route is with the free AT Journey Planner.
Auckland Explorer: Hop-on-hop-off bus
While this is a great way to see the city, it will only get you to four of the museums listed above: Auckland Museum, MOTAT, Maritime Museum, and Auckland Art Gallery.
⇒ Check price for the Auckland Explorer Bus
Taxi or Uber
Unless you are in the heart of the central business district (CBD), you will need to call for a taxi if you want one. Uber is also a popular option for getting around in New Zealand. Both are generally considered safe.
The latest craze in Auckland is the Lime Scooter. Located throughout central Auckland, scooters are found with an app. Simply find one, tag on with your phone’s app, and pay by the time used. Helmets are recommended, although not provided. Howick Historic Village or Te Uru are outside of the service area.
Honestly, this is my favourite way to see any city. There are so many lovely walks in Auckland, an isthmus built on the cones of 48 extinct volcanoes. From the city centre, it is an easy walk to the Maritime Museum or the Auckland Art Gallery. Longer walks include the Auckland Museum (2.7 km from Britomart) or MOTAT (5 km from Britomart). For the other three museums, you would need some sort of transportation.
Driving in Auckland is not much different than driving in any other major city around the world. Traffic is heavy, people drive less politely than they do in the suburban areas, and parking is both difficult to find and expensive. As a visitor, we recommend picking up a rental car when you are ready to leave the city. Within the city, use one of the methods above.
However, if you are going to rent a car in New Zealand, we use and recommend RentalCars.com. As a conglomerator, they present a list of rental options from local and international companies that allow you to quickly compare vehicle size, price, and company ratings. Plus, we have been consistently impressed by their customer service.
⇒ Compare prices with RentalCars.com
Please share this list of museums on social media, starting with Pinterest:
After visiting the museums in Auckland, don’t miss these 75 free or nearly free things to do in the city.