The Taranaki Museums and Art Galleries You Can’t Miss!
You might know Taranaki for its wild and wonderful Egmont National Park, its epic surf on the Surf Highway 45 or the volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki sitting central in the region, but did you know that Taranaki is an art and cultural hub of New Zealand?! Visitors are often surprised by the array of art galleries and museums in Taranaki, and in the main city of New Plymouth alone! The Taranaki museums are a great way to discover the history, culture and inspirations for the local people, so take a step inside some of these extremely affordable and captivation museums and art galleries in Taranaki.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 Taranaki Must-Dos.
1. Puke Ariki
A great place to start your museum and art gallery discovery is with the regional museum for Taranaki, Puke Ariki! Learn about Taranaki’s Maori and pioneering past through grand exhibitions, four of which are permanent and others are temporary. The museum has interactive displays about the local flora and fauna, as well as the fascinating volcanic geography of the area. The museum is open seven days a week and is free entry.
Location: 1 Ariki Street, New Plymouth
2. Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki
This museum is a real hidden gem in New Zealand and only found by those travelling on Surf Highway 45 through Patea. Enter through a carved archway into the free museum where some of the oldest wooden relics are on display. See a 3.5 million-year-old fossilised baleen whale skull and learn about tragic stories of the Taranaki Wars throughout this well-appointed museum. The museum is open Monday to Saturday.
Location: 127 Egmont Street, Patea
3. Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
The architecture of The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is a piece of art itself, but if that doesn’t tempt you inside then maybe the fact that it’s another free attraction in New Plymouth might help. Inside, the gallery holds innovative and provocative works of giant kinetic sculptures and numerous temporary exhibitions. The centre largely focusses on the works of Len Lye, a filmmaker, artist and kinetic sculptor. The gallery is open every day except Tuesdays.
Location: 42 Queen Street, New Plymouth
4. Percy Thomson Art Gallery
This gallery hidden down an ally off Miranda Street is well worth a look to see the latest contemporary exhibitions from Stratford! The Percy Thomson Art Gallery is a public art gallery named after a former mayor of the town. See exhibitions of national and international touring exhibitions, as well as works from local established and emerging artists. The gallery is free, although donations are welcomed. Check out more things to do in Stratford here.
Location: Miranda Street, Stratford
5. Tawhiti Museum and Traders & Whalers
One of the most unique museums in New Zealand, the Tawhiti Museum showcases Taranaki’s past through life-size models cast from real people, as well as scale models to create realistic displays. Across from the Tawhiti Museum is Traders & Whalers, a historical presentation that took four years to plan and build, depicting stories from Taranaki’s coast between the 1820s and 1840s. The museums are open Friday to Monday in summer and Sundays in winter. There is a small entry fee.
Location: 401 Ohangai Road, Hawera
6. The Gables Colonial Hospital
Combine history and art at The Gables Colonial Hospital and the Taranaki Society of Arts Gallery. The heritage building set in manicured gardens was built in 1848 and now exhibits artworks that are for sale. The Gables also has a small museum with medical relics and furniture on display. The free-entry museum/gallery is open on the weekends and public holiday afternoons.
Location: Brooklands Drive, New Plymouth
Ok, Eltham isn’t a museum, but walking around this historic town with its preserved buildings sure feels like being in an open-air museum. The South Taranaki town is brimming with heritage buildings, interpretation panels to learn about the history and even some shop-window exhibitions. For your fix of art, many of the town’s buildings are awash with murals. It’s definitely worth stopping by to wander around this gem of Taranaki!
Location: Eltham, south of Stratford
8. TSB Bowls New Zealand Museum
Visit the world’s only registered museum dedicated to lawn bowls right here in New Plymouth! The TSB Bowls New Zealand Museum located by the New Plymouth Bowling Club contains a wealth of bowling memorabilia from more than 50 countries.
Location: 157 Brooklands Road, New Plymouth
9. Taranaki Pioneer Village
For a “real” open-air museum (not like Eltham that we just mentioned) check out the fun and quirky Taranaki Pioneer Village. Wander around 40 different buildings from the 19th and 20th Century spread across 10 acres. Visit the school, court, church, hospital, an original village homestead and much more, either on foot or on the mini railway. The village also has an on-site cafe. Pioneer Village is open daily and requires a small entrance fee.
Location: Just south of Stratford on State Highway 3
10. Taranaki Country Music Hall of Fame
While many of us get excited for the bread factory in Manaia, some of you may get excited about the Taranaki Country Music Hall of Fame! Check our memorabilia from country music legends. What was once a Band Hall in Manaia has been transformed into an impressive collection of country music photographs and domestic items from the yesteryears. The Hall of Fame puts on live entertainment every Thursday evening at 6.30pm, while the exhibitions are open Monday to Thursdays. A small fee applies.
Location: 11 Surf Highway 45, Manaia