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Inside the craypot – the Kaikoura Museum

From the outside, the new Kaikoura Civic Building is designed to look like a giant craypot. Inside, you’ll find a museum jam-packed with visually-rich installations and great storytelling.

Kaikoura Museum opened in November 2016 and visitors have compared it to a ‘mini Te Papa’ – New Zealand’s stunning national museum. The development of the museum was a collaboration between the Kaikoura Historical Society and architecture practice Pearson and Associates.

Kaikoura Museum Manager Stephanie Lange says: "We saw an opportunity when the Kaikoura District Council was rebuilding to bring the collection to a wider audience. Housing the collection in a purpose-built space means we’ll be able to continue to look after it for years to come.”

The museum is home to numerous interesting, quirky and uniquely Kaikoura exhibits, including a fully-restored cabin from the Taiaroa ship that sank off the Kaikoura coast in 1886. There’s also a two-roomed jail with a padded cell believed to be one of only two left in New Zealand and ‘The Old Dunga’ – a vintage surfboard used in an annual surf competition.

Other exhibits highlight Kaikoura’s dramatic geological features, abundant marine life, early Maori settlement and taonga, subsequent European development and the importance of surfing and tourism to the local economy. There is an aerial map of Kaikoura Peninsula on the floor and puzzles, soft toys, books and plenty of items for children to marvel at – like a three-metre-long sperm whale jaw weighing 80kg.

Lange says the museum was made possible with a $2 million grant from the Lotteries Heritage Fund, many years of planning and fundraising efforts. The space was recognised as the winner of the Interior Architecture Award and Resene Colour Award at the 2017 Nelson/Marlborough Regional Architecture awards. It was also runner up in the 2017 Museums Aotearoa Museum Project Excellence Award.

Travel tips

Kaikoura Museum is located in Kaikoura’s West End, opposite the Kaikoura i-SITE Visitor Information Centre.

Before you travel to Kaikoura, check which route is best for you:

  • State Highway 1 (SH1) between Christchurch and Kaikoura is open daylight hours Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday
  • Inland Route 70 between Christchurch, Culverden/Waiau and Kaikoura is open 24/7
  • SH1 between Kaikoura and Blenheim/Picton re-opens in December 2017
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