Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

Galleries and museum key icon.
Galleries and museum key icon.

Monday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Tuesday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Wednesday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Thursday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Friday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Saturday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Sunday10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

31 Queens Gardens, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

03 477 5052

Whether you’ve just arrived in Otago for the first time or have lived here for years, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum will give you a new appreciation for the region and how it’s come to be what we know today.

Organised chronologically, the museum begins in the stunning new foyer and leads through to the Ara-i-te-uru section, which explores Kai Tahu’s identity in the region, with areas dedicated to mohiki watercraft and an interactive storehouse of knowledge of Māori in Otago.

From there visitors learn about early encounters between Māori and whalers/sealers, who later became some of the region’s first European settlers. The Smith Gallery is a classical gallery full of those settlers’ portraits. At the heart of the room are four screens – click on any portrait to learn more about the settler depicted, where they came from and their story in Otago.

Children will enjoy the shipboard experience ‘Across the Ocean Waves’ that features a replica of a ship’s steerage cabin in which many early settlers travelled to NZ. Quarters were tight, to say the least, and this interactive display gives a sense of the journey’s true nature.

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum has been in existence since 1898 and spans almost two full city blocks. The exhibitions will take you through the region’s gold boom, military history, transport improvements, arts and culture evolution and more.

At the very end of the museum you’ll find yourself at Lan Yuan – Dunedin Chinese Garden – which celebrates the Chinese influence on Otago’s history. It’s one of only three authentic Chinese gardens outside of China and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.

Whether you’ve got just a few hours or an entire day to spend here, Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is not to be missed. Admission is free or by koha donation. 

Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou

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31 Queens Gardens, Central Dunedin, Dunedin

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