If you’re lucky enough to sail into Auckland you won’t miss the
imposing, white, Greco-Roman Auckland Museum, surrounded by the green acres of the
central city’s largest park, The Domain.
Originally built to honour the dead of Gallipoli,
Passchendaele and other WWI blood baths, it retains its original function as a War Memorial. The top floor (of
three) is devoted to the country’s military history, from the colonial New
Zealand wars of the 1860s through ANZAC involvement both World Wars to
coverage of the country’s military in Vietnam.
The middle floor natural history galleries are the place to
track down skeletons of giant moa (some twice the size of an ostrich), and a
fun mock-up of a suburban lounge as it suffers the effects of a volcanic
eruption, something Auckland could experience at any time.
But the museum’s real highlight is the ground floor with its
superb collection Pacific art exemplified by Kave, a brooding, breadfruit-wood sculpture of the malevolent
Caroline Islands goddess. The magnificent Maori
galleries are dominated by two of the finest surviving carved pieces: the
intricately-carved Hotonui meeting house, and the 25-metre-long Te Toki a Tapiri waka taua. Designed to seat a hundred warriors, it is the
only surviving war canoe from the pre-European era.