Mind expanding museums

Tropical butterflies in Dunedin, Elvis memorabilia in Hawera. New Zealand’s museums are full of surprises!

Winter is the perfect time to take in a few museums and now you can supplement your cranial fix with a dash of the tropics – in Otago. Surprisingly, New Zealand’s chilliest urban centre is home to Discovery World Tropical Forest, a lush, tropical environment that brings you face to face with some of nature’s most beautiful butterflies.

You can walk through a steamy rainforest while a swarm of 1000 tropical butterflies flitter around you. Poetry! The Tropical Forest is also home to tarantulas, turtles, finches and other heat-loving critters. Those who prefer their flora to their fauna will enjoy the rich variety of tropical plants including orchids, bromeliads, bananas, coffee, cardamom and passionfruit.

In the north is a museum experience of an entirely different yet equally exotic kind – the Elvis Museum in Hawera Taranaki. Here, in Kevin Wasley’s garage, you’ll find one of the largest collections of Elvis memorabilia in Australasia.

An Elvis nut since the age of 12, Kevin has painstakingly collected and compiled his vast collection of recordings, souvenirs and videos for about 50 years.

The museum doesn’t have set opening hours or a set entry fee so it pays to get in touch with Kevin to arrange a time, and a donation to help with upkeep is always appreciated.

New Zealand is peppered with cool museums celebrating the historic, the fascinating and the quirky – what’s your favourite?

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