New Zealand’s museums exhibit a wide array of interesting collections, and many offer clever interactive displays. Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum on the waterfront in Wellington, takes museum-going to another level with simulators and rides, while not far away, the Museum of Wellington City & Sea has a special focus on the area’s seafaring history. Auckland Museum is known for its Māori artefacts, and across town the Museum of Technology and Transport (known universally as Motat) has some amazing pieces in its extensive collection. Canterbury Museum in Christchurch offers outstanding Māori exhibits and rich collections in a neo-Gothic building that, especially post-earthquakes, is almost a historical exhibit in itself, while further south Otago Museum in Dunedin focuses on South Island history.

Around the country you’ll find specialist museums dedicated to everything from cars and planes to toys and fashion – the Kauri Museum at Matakohe in Northland, World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum in Nelson, and National Transport & Toy Museum in Wanaka are all highlights – and regional museums that are often a surprisingly good visit, such as New Plymouth’s regional museum/library/activity centre Te Puke Ariki.

The outstanding armed-forces double act of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch and National Army Museum in Waiouru are also must-stops for anyone interested in military history. Meanwhile, history also comes off the page at historical recreation destinations like Shantytown, a pioneer village near Greymouth, and Ferrymead Heritage Park’s Edwardian Street in Christchurch.