Despite a prime location on the waterfront at Viaduct Harbour, the New Zealand Maritime Museum is often overlooked and seemingly under visited. Odd for the City of Sails, and being one of the better maritime museums I’ve visited (I’ve been to a few…). Perhaps it’s the $20 entrance fee but for Aucklanders entry is free and well worth a visit, particularly on a rainy day.
The entrance is pretty obvious, marked by New Zealand’s unsuccessful 1988 American’s Cup challenge boat KZ 1, after the Americans adopted a very loose interpretation of the rules and sailed a much faster catamaran.
Some of the first Europeans to visit New Zealand were whalers, a pretty brutal if lucrative industry.
The HMS Orpheus wrecking on the bar to the entrance to the Manukau Harbour in 1863 was the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand history, claiming 189 lives, commemorated with an interesting video and memorial.
Being an immigrant myself I found the section on people’s journeys to New Zealand particularly interesting. Times have changed somewhat from DOC hut style bunk beds through to somewhat smarter, quicker ships, to today’s 24 hours on a plane.
The maritime theme is adopted quite loosely to include the classic kiwi Bach (holiday home) and local diary, which are along with messing around in the water, an integral part of the Kiwi summer experience.
An entire wing of the museum is dedicated to New Zealand’s most successful and well known sailor, Peter Blake. It includes his famous lucky red socks and the 1995 America’s Cup winning yacht NZL 32. Tragically he was killed aged 53 by pirates on the Amazon River in 2001.