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Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

The extensive collection of interactive displays and intricate scale models bring the fascinating history of the Otago region to life.

At the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, view replicas of traditional Maori boats and discover how the indigenous people of New Zealand adapted to accommodate arrivals from abroad. Go below deck on a replica immigrant ship and check out a genuine 19th-century British train.

Begin your visit to the museum by gaining an understanding of life in New Zealand before the first settlers arrived at the end of the 18th century. The Ara-i-te-uru exhibit will show you how events unfolded through the eyes of the Maori. Don’t miss the examples of typical Mokihi watercraft and the fully interactive storehouse of knowledge.

The next section of the museum gives a detailed account of the first encounters between the people of New Zealand and their British counterparts. Discover why this was such a turbulent period and why the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi was such an important moment.

One of the museum’s most enthralling features is a life-size depiction of the interior of an immigrant boat. Climb aboard to get a sense of the long, arduous and often terrifying journey around the world from Britain to Otago. Short video clips help illustrate the realities of the journey.

Elsewhere in the museum hear stories about the famous gold rush of 1861. Stand completely surrounded by portraits of Otago’s early pioneers in the Smith Gallery. Built in 1908, this is the oldest part of the museum.

Spend time admiring Josephine, the green locomotive that was transported from England in 1872 to be used on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers Railway. Having been saved from the scrap heap, it has now retired to the museum where it provides a tangible glimpse into a bygone era.

The Toitū Otago Settlers Museum is at Queens Gardens in central Dunedin. Stop at the museum’s café and souvenir shop during your visit. The museum is open every day, all week with free access. Special exhibits may charge a small fee for entry.


Guide to Exploring around Toitu Otago Settlers Museum


Best Lodging Options Near Toitu Otago Settlers Museum

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Quest Dunedin CA $110
Quest Dunedin

Quest Dunedin

333 Cumberland St, Dunedin
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Dunedin City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame and The Octagon. University of Otago and Forsyth Barr Stadium are also within 2 miles (3 km). Dunedin Railway Station is 5 minutes by foot.

    The Victoria Hotel Dunedin CA $105
    The Victoria Hotel Dunedin

    The Victoria Hotel Dunedin

    137 St Andrew Street Centre City, Dunedin
       
      4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Dunedin City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dunedin Public Art Gallery, The Octagon and Dunedin Town Hall. St. Paul's Cathedral and Speight's Brewery are also within 15 minutes. Dunedin Railway Station is 6 minutes by foot.

      Scenic Hotel Southern Cross CA $128
      Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

      Scenic Hotel Southern Cross

      118 High Street, Dunedin
         
        4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Dunedin City Centre, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Dunedin Casino and Speight's Brewery. Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Regent Theatre are also within 10 minutes. Dunedin Railway Station is 16 minutes by foot.

        Wains Hotel Dunedin CA $131
        Wains Hotel Dunedin

        Wains Hotel Dunedin

        310 Princes St, Dunedin
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Dunedin City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dunedin Casino and The Octagon. University of Otago and Forsyth Barr Stadium are also within 2 miles (3 km). Dunedin Railway Station is 10 minutes by foot.

          315 Euro Motel CA $117
          315 Euro Motel

          315 Euro Motel

          315 George Street, Dunedin
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Dunedin City Centre, this aparthotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dunedin Town Hall and The Octagon. University of Otago and Forsyth Barr Stadium are also within 2 miles (3 km). Dunedin Railway Station is 20 minutes by foot.

            Distinction Dunedin Hotel CA $158
            Distinction Dunedin Hotel

            Distinction Dunedin Hotel

            6 Liverpool Street, Dunedin
               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Dunedin City Centre, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dunedin Casino and The Octagon. University of Otago and Forsyth Barr Stadium are also within 2 miles (3 km). Dunedin Railway Station is 9 minutes by foot.

              Law Courts Hotel CA $60
              Law Courts Hotel

              Law Courts Hotel

              53 Stuart Street, Cnr Cumberland & Stuart Streets, Dunedin
                 
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Located in Dunedin City Centre, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of First Church of Otago, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and The Octagon. St. Paul's Cathedral and Speight's Brewery are also within 10 minutes. Dunedin Railway Station is only a 2-minute walk.

                Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin CA $100
                Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

                Kingsgate Hotel Dunedin

                10 Smith Street, Dunedin
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Dunedin City Centre, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of St. Paul's Cathedral, Speight's Brewery and First Church of Otago. Olveston and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum are also within 15 minutes. Dunedin Railway Station is 10 minutes by foot.