The Clutha and Catlins Museums You Can’t Miss
Ok, so you can miss some of them, but it’s worth checking out at least one of these fantastic museums in the Catlins and Clutha district right on the edge of the Otago and Southland regions. The museums add to the small-town charm that each of the Kiwi towns they are situated in displays. You’ll learn fascinating stories of the early pioneers of the area and see interesting artefacts used in the home to the gold mines. So find out which museums to hit with this list of the best museums in Clutha and The Catlins.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 Must-Dos in The Catlins and Mountain Biking in the Catlins and Clutha District.
1. Owaka Museum
This award-winning museum is a must-visit in The Catlins. The Owaka Museum tells fascinating stories from the Catlins Coast, from shipwrecks to early pioneer struggles. The museum also shares a venue with an information centre, a community art gallery and the Owaka Library, giving you plenty of things to check out during your visit.
Location: 10 Campbell Street, Owaka
2. Kaitangata Black Gold Heritage Museum
Walk through the reconstruction of an underground coal mine as you enter the Kaitangata Black Gold Heritage Museum. Learn about the mining disaster of 1879, which at the time was the largest disaster in New Zealand. There are some fascinating photographs and relics on display from this community that was once the largest populated town in South Otago.
Location: Torquay Street, Kaitangata
3. South Otago Museum
Check out some interesting domestic and industrial artefacts from the South Otago’s pioneering days. One of the highlights of the South Otago Museum is the machinery room with machines and vehicles used to shape the landscape between the Clutha River and Nugget Point. Other collections include the Benhar pottery display and the Kaka Point coastal fishing display. See more activities here in 6 Things to Do in Balclutha.
Location: 1 Renfrew Street, Balclutha
4. West Otago Museum
See the collections of vintage tractors, with models made in 1913 to the 1950s, at the West Otago Museum. What’s more, all of the tractors are in working order! Additionally, the museum houses domestic items from New Zealand homes in the 1880s, as well as examples of early butter churns, hand-powered washing machines and relics from a former hospital.
Location: 59 Northumberland Street, Tapanui
5. Tokomairiro Museum
Situated in a grand Art Deco building which was once the Milton Post Office, the Tokomairoro Museum is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon in Milton. Check out old collections of Milton Pottery, as well as artefacts from a sailing ship that wrecked near Milton in 1907. There are also temporary exhibitions, which can display anything from clothing to domestic items. Check out more activities in our 7 Fun Things to Do in Milton.
Location: 53 Union Street, Milton
6. Tuapeka Goldfields Museum
Celebrating the discovery of gold by Gabriel Read in 1861, the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum showcases the gold mining history of the Tuapeka area. The museum explains traditional methods of obtaining gold, from panning to sluicing. There is a room dedicated to the Chinese community that once lived and worked here, as well as more displays showing the old school, church and social life of the gold miners and their families.
Location: 17 Ross Place, Lawrence