Made To Share Aotearoa New Zealand Stories

New Zealand’s location, dramatic and varied landscape, unique native wildlife, and history all combine to make the special place we live today.

From the amazing geographic features and the spectacular night sky, through to early and modern explorers, all across the country there are experiences that are designed to share, delight, and educate you and your family about our special place in the world. Inspire curiosity and celebrate culture with our nation’s stories.

Please note: Venue information was correct at the time of publication. Please check with individual venues for the latest opening dates, times, prices, etc, before making plans. Regions and venues may have travel and access restrictions due to the Covid-19 Protection Framework.

In the beginning …

The Dark Sky Project

Billions of years ago, according to modern science and Māori legend, our world and universe were formed. To tell the story, The Dark Sky Project in Tekapo has created a thought-provoking and educational venue dedicated to taking you on a 13.8 billion year journey of our creation. See in exciting detail our night sky and the wonders of the universe in an indoor multimedia installation.

Visit The Dark Sky Project

Geothermal wonderland

Te Puia

At the centre of our earth it’s very hot and when the water seeping down through the earth meets the heat, it rises and creates geothermal activity on Earth’s surface. This comes to life in various spots around New Zealand but none as spectacular as the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere – the Pōhutu geyser at Te Puia in Rotorua. This volcanic area also features boiling springs, mud pools and fumaroles (steam or gas vents) and makes for a spectacular sight during the day, or at night.

Visit Te Puia

Unique flora and fauna


New Zealand broke away from another land mass about 80 million years ago. In that time our flora and fauna developed in their own unique way and many of our native plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world. Since the arrival of people in Aotearoa, sadly many natives have become extinct.

Wellington’s ZEALANDIA is a native wildlife sanctuary dedicated to returning the area to how it was before the arrival of people. Set in fully-fenced native bush, you can spot prehistoric tuatara, rare birds, reptiles, invertebrates and plants. At night, you can also spot the glowworms and maybe one of more than 150 kiwi roaming free.

Visit Zealandia

The adventures of Kupe


According to local Māori legend, Kupe was the first Polynesian to arrive in Aotearoa. He later departed from Hokianga to return home to Hawaiki in the eastern Pacific. Generations later, Kupe’s grandson Nukutāwhiti, traced his voyage from Hawaiki to reside on the shores of the Hokianga with his people, and today many iwi trace their ancestry back to this legendary explorer. The descendants of Kupe welcome you to Manea – Footprints of Kupe Experience in Hokianga to proudly share the stories and traditions of their ancestor.

Visit Manea – Footprints of Kupe Experience

The first settlers

Ko Tane

Go on a Māori cultural experience at Ko Tāne – be entertained with a kapahaka performance which includes action songs, poi dances, haka, stick games and weapons display. Enjoy some kai (food), and learn about ancient traditions.

Visit Ko Tane

The birth of a nation

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay of Islands welcomes you on a journey of discovery through Aotearoa New Zealand’s most important historic site. Explore the two new contemporary museums, Te Rau Aroha, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, the carving studio, the Treaty House, Te Whare Rūnanga (Carved Meeting House), traditional Māori waka taua (war canoes) and enjoy a full programme of tours and cultural performances. You can also learn about New Zealand’s founding document, what it contained, the important differences between the English and Māori versions, and how this document defines Aotearoa today.

Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Colonial settlers

Howick Historical Village

By the mid to late 1800s, European settlers were arriving in greater numbers, building homes, developing farms, and looking for gold. Public infrastructure was beginning to be built and towns were springing up.

At Howick Historical Village in Auckland, you can explore wooden heritage buildings, raupō huts and a sod cottage, complete with authentic furnishings and contents, all surrounded by beautiful heritage gardens. There are regular family-friendly events held where you can all perform some of the daily chores and activities of early settlers and get an understanding of what life was like for these new arrivals.

Visit Howick Historical Village

Modern explorers

International Antarctic Centre

Although there was likely some New Zealanders heading to Antarctica in the 1800s as part of other countries’ trips south, it was in the mid 20th century that New Zealanders began exploring on their own expeditions.

There has been an almost continuous New Zealand presence on the ice since then. The International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch tells this story. You can “visit” Scott Base, where New Zealanders base themselves, experience an Antarctic storm, test out how cold the water is down there, ride a Hägglund (one of the main transport options on the ice), and explore some of the early explorers’ historic huts. You can also see rescued Little Blue Penguins and meet a husky dog!

Visit the International Antarctic Centre

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