Review | MOTAT – Museum of Transport and Technology

Promotion for MOTAT

MOTAT is New Zealand’s largest transport and technology museum that uses past, present and future technology and ingenuity to inspire visitors.

Mum Katie and her husband decided to make the most of a sunny day in Auckland and take their two girls Ella (9) and Ruby (7) to MOTAT.

Getting there

MOTAT has two sites linked by a heritage tram. Before we went we browsed the website and decided to start at the Great North Road site. As we’re not familiar with this side of town we used our maps app and were surprised at how quickly we were off the North Western Motorway and looking for a park. In retrospect, we would have been better to park at the other site on Motions Road as they have a big, accessible car park.

We made our way into the entrance/ticketing office and while we got our tickets the girls enjoyed doing a bit of window shopping in the MOTAT shop. I only had a quick look but there were a lot of really cool STEM toys for kids of all ages – Ella in particular was fascinated with them. Before we even started exploring the girls had a ride on a small fire engine called “Little Flick” that was just inside the entrance.

Interactive fun


Fun on the Pac-Man 

First, we visited the Get Smart Exhibition. This was really cool as it showed you how much technology has changed over time. They had phones, TVs, computers, cameras, music devices plus more from all the years gone by. When I pointed out to Ella the TV that I first remember having as a child she cheekily said, “I feel so sorry for you Mum, I’m glad I didn’t live back then.” Thanks for making me feel old Ella!

There were lots of interactive activities which kept us all busy, especially the two old arcade games Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, working out your age in binary, and talking into a phone and seeing the sound waves that your voice makes.


Next up was the original 1870s Pumphouse where you can see a steam engine operating every day.

Steam engine at MOTAT

1911 Triple Expansion Steam engine

There was a diesel as well as a coal-powered engine but the one that was really cool to see was a steam engine as the girl’s grandfather makes small steam engines as a hobby. It was exciting for them to see a large one.

Retro phones

Ruby on the rotary phone at MOTAT

Ruby on the rotary phone

We then went to the Telecommunications building where they had old working rotary phones which the girls had no idea how to use! Once they got the hang of it we all spent some time calling each other and talking which Ruby found absolutely hilarious.

Women in coding

Code Breakers next door is an exhibition celebrating women who have been involved in the development of the gaming industry and includes lots of games to try. This exhibition is probably aimed at older kids but we did find a couple that were really easy and fun for the kids to play. If you have a gamer or aspiring game maker this is a must-see.

Mini machine makers

Machine Makers, another interactive area is great for little engineers. There are a number of hands-on activities such as building a bridge that you can walk over and going on a slide with an incline and one with none where the girls raced each other to see which was the fastest.

There were pulley rope systems where you pulled yourself up – one was easier than the other so the girls had to have a close look and study both systems to try and figure out why one was easier than the other. We spent quite a bit of time in this area as girls were having so much fun competing against each other and their Dad.

The pulley at MOTAT

Ella testing the pulley

Switch It Up

On a mission at MOTAT

On a mission to find sustainable solutions

Our favourite place for the day was Switch It Up. Here there are 8 stations spread out over two rooms and the girls each had to choose a mission. Ella chose drama and Ruby choose something to do with animals. The aim of the mission is to make better choices for our environment by recycling, reusing, and reducing waste. They each had three tasks to complete which entailed going around all the stations to find the correct resource/solution for their task. Once done they make their way to the Hub where they got a big congratulations for completing their mission.

It was so much fun and so educational as well as inspiring.

Our last stop of the day was the old settler Village. I think most kids these days would be shocked to see the small houses that families used to live in. We loved the old school house from Wainiu School which is very close to where we live.

Do visit

We all had a great day at MOTAT – all the staff were so friendly and there was lots to see. We enjoyed a great coffee from the aptly named cafe Steamed and also grabbed some easy snacks from the cabinet.

Ella and Ruby definitely enjoyed how many interactive things there were and they are already talking about what they will do when we go back to visit next – there was still lots we didn’t get to see including the big Aviation Hall on the other site.

While we went on a sunny day, we realise now MOTAT is fantastic no matter the weather as there is such a large range of both indoor and outdoor things to do.

Thanks for having us MOTAT – we’ll be back!

What you need to know

Switch It Up exhibition is on until 31 March 2023 so plan your visit now!

MOTAT Mates family membership (2 adults & up to 4 children) is just $95 for one year – that’s only $8 per month and is perfect for families and friends who love to visit MOTAT. It gives unlimited general admission to MOTAT, even during school holidays, along with other discounts and benefits.

MOTAT is open daily from 10am to 4pm.

plan your visit MOTAT now

Katie and her family were provided with passes to MOTAT for the purposes of the review. Views are those of the reviewer.

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