Centered around two main harbors, the North Island’s largest city is punctuated by the Sky Tower. A sprinkling of diverse museums informs visitors about New Zealand’s seafaring history, transportation, and flora and fauna. Here are our top picks.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Housed in a grand neoclassical building, the war memorial exhibits are located on three expansive levels of the Auckland Museum. Go to learn about the indigenous origins of Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand), and its colonization by European settlers.
**How to Visit:**Join a city sightseeing tour, or go on your own and add on a Maori cultural performance.
Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
MOTAT features a century’s worth of New Zealand’s transportation systems, from 19th-century fire engines and steam trains to a variety of aircraft. Ride the working tramway, and browse technological artifacts at the Victorian village.
**How to Visit:**Book a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour and make the museum one of your stops.
Situated in Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, the Wintergardens showcase native and exotic tropical and temperate plants in two Victorian-style glass greenhouses established in 1913. The New Zealand ferns are a highlight.
**How to Visit:**Join a small-group city sightseeing tour.
Odyssey Sensory Maze
Meander through a dozen different rooms that make up this sensory maze. Fun for visitors of all ages, a variety of sound effects, optical illusions, and mysterious scents challenge your brain.
**How to Visit:**Save time and money by prebooking your admission.
SEA LIFE® Kelly Tarlton’s
Jellyfish, stingrays, and king penguins are all part of the magic at this aquarium. Explore nine themed zones, visit the Antarctic Encounter, wander under a shark tunnel, and touch starfish at the rock pool.
**How to Visit:**Upgrade your admission for a shark diving experience.
Walk along the Garden of Creative Diversity at this inspiring sculpture museum, about an hour’s drive north of Auckland in Matakana. Indoors, you’ll see galleries mixed with plants, from glassworks to modern masterpieces.
**How to Visit:**On weekends, check out gallery highlights on a guided tour.