Taupo Museum

Taupo Museum in Story Place

The Taupo Museum is the result of decades of work by volunteers and paid employees. It contains a rich history of the Taupo Region which is always expanding It’s a place to see no matter if you’re a tourist or a local. In Story Place it’s very close to Taupo’s CBD (main business area).

The Taupo District Council looks after the Museum and it’s run by the same branch that operates the Taupo District Library.
The Taupo Museum has both indoor displays and an outdoor garden, The OraGarden, which has won awards for it’s design.
The indoor displaysinclude a an extensive history of local sawmilling, a Maori meeting house, a Maoriartifact climate controlled room called The Tuwharetoa Gallery, afishing or hunting caravan called the Kiwiana Caravan, a Taupo’s Volcanic Secrets Display and other displays and artworks.
Ruaumoko Carving

One artwork of particular interest is the Ruaumoko God Of Carving Sculpture which was carved onsite at the Museum by a traditional Maori carver.

Te Aroha o Rongoheikume

The Maori Meeting House (Wharenui) is named Te Aroha o Rongoheikume. Photographs are not allowed of the interior but it contains many items of interest and some of them are displayed in glass and wood cases. The displays include a ceremonial adze and an impressive carved spear (taiaha).

There are a lot of carvings that have meaning to local Maori and they are richly displayed on the exterior as well as the interior walls. The interior walls also have many weaved panels. A carved centre pole inside helps to hold up the structure. Outside on the porch of the meeting house there is a box containing Maori sticks and instructions of how to play this ancient Maori game.

The Ora Garden

The Garden of Wellbeing or The Ora Garden is a smaller model of the garden which was grown in the United Kingdom and entered into to the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show where it won a gold medal. The Garden displays Central North Island and New Zealand flora and thermal activity.

There are covered outdoor tables adjacent to The Ora Garden where the visitor can relax although sadly there are no tea and coffee facilities.


Kiwiana Caravan

The Kiwiana Caravan is a re-creation of an old New Zealand institution, that of a holiday by the beach. The caravan includes all of the period pieces of this classic era of New Zealand holidaying. The books, fixtures and fittings such as the radio take the viewer back to a bygone time. Visitors can climb up into the caravan to get the full experience and for some to bring back the memories of that period.

Bob Stott’s Sawmill Model

The Timber Tales Of Old display is right in the middle of the Museum and showcases Stott’s model sawmill. It’s enclosed in glass and surrounded by lots of information about the timber industry which was so important to the Taupo Region in its early years. On the side of the shack containing the display is an audio visual history of the sawmilling industry in the Taupo Region.

There’s a wealth of information about many of the sawmills that operated in the area such as those at Mokai, Tihoi and Oruanui. Lots of the information is in a couple of folders inside the shack and next to the glass display case.

But the main focus of the display is the long enclosed forestry model which includes not only the different phases of the sawmilling process but also the forestry haulage side as well. A vast amount of work by Bob Scott was put in to constructing this model.

Record Trout

Trout fishing is of course an activity for which Lake Taupo and the rivers which run into it, particularly the Tongariro, is famous. The Taupo Museum pays tribute to this activity with information, pictures and some incredibly large (by today’s standards) mounted trout which are hanging on a wall. The trout display is called Anglers’Paradise.

Next to the trout is a display of the various flies that are well known in the Taupo Region.

Trout fishing in the area goes right back to the 19th Century and many noted anglers such as the prominent American author Zane Grey fished in the lake and rivers.

Ever wondered what shopping was like in Taupo in the early days? Well the Taupo Museum has a store called the Busy Corner Store that takes you right back to the shopping days of old. It’s full of items of the period available for sale way back then

The Busy Corner Store

Within the Store is a audio visual presentation about the history of the Taupo District. But it’s interesting to look at the various items and try to see if any of the brands have survived into the modern era.

Shops like this were common to the region one hundred years ago and each settlement in the Central North Island would have had something similar.

The Tuwharetoa Gallery

The Tuwharetoa Gallery is one of most important displays in the Museum because of the rarity and value of some of the items it contains. It’s in the far end of the building and houses a 14.5m (nearly 50 ft) canoe (waka). This craft made of Totara was discovered in the Opepe Bush in 1967 and is not in operating condition. The canoe could be as much as 150 years old and weighs 1.2 tonnes but would have been heavier when it was in pristine condition.

The Gallery is climate controlled to ensure the best longevity for the items it contains. As with the meeting house there are no photos allowed which is a pity because there are some very interest items there.

The Gallery also houses many other Tuwharetoa artifacts, artworks and also stuffed birds that were common to the region. The birds include a Australasian Harrier, wood pigeons, a Kiwi with an egg, a Tui, a Kotare and a New Zealand Owl (Ruru). It is interesting to see a Maori bird trough (Waka Manu).

There are some stunning artworks in the Gallery including two Maori portraits by Thomas Ryan. Other exhibits include grass skirts, clubs and weapons, adzes, various carvings and a woven belt.

In addition there is a touch screen computer with lots of information. And all of this can be enjoyed with the forest sounds that are piped through into the Gallery.

The SS Tongariro display is on the wall opposite the sawmilling area and shows the history of a ship that used to play is trade in Lake Taupo, the SS Tongariro.

There are mementos of the vessel in the display including its rudder. The history of the vessel can be watched on the audio visual display that is contained in it.


Volcanic Rock

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing Virtual Tour is part of the Taupo’s Volcanic Secret’s display.

It shows a day walk called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and includes lots of video, photos and other kinds of information.

There is a display of volcanic rock including the black glass-like rock obsidian.

The Taupo Museum also has another gallery, just called the Art Gallery, which displays different art collections. These collections may be New Zealand or foreign artworks and the Museum produces information about upcoming Gallery events up to a year in advance.

Next to this Gallery is the Niven Room which, from time to time, shows films and also displays artworks.

There are many other
displays in the Taupo Museum which are of particular interest for those
interested in the Taupo Region.

The Taupo Museum is open every day from 10am to 4.30pm (Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day) and from 1pm on Anzac Day.​
For locally based
visitors there is no cover charge while for visitors to Taupo the
admittance fee is $5.00 except for seniors and tertiary students who
are charged $3.00 each.

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