SS Puke

SS Puke is the Museum's steam launch built towards the end of the 19th Century.

SS Puke, the Museum’s steam launch, is thought to have been a tender in the Kaipara logging trade, built by E. Thompson and Son at Aratapu, towards the end of the 19th century. She is typical of the small craft used for local transport on the Kaipara and other Northland harbours and rivers.


Breeze is a square rigged brigantine

Breeze is a traditional wooden sailing ship similar to vessels used for New Zealand coastal and inter-Dominion trades in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A brigantine, she has a square-rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged mainmast.

Ted Ashby

Ted Ashby is a ketch-rigged deck scow

Ted Ashby is a ketch-rigged deck scow, typical of the fleet of scows that once operated in northern New Zealand waters.

Built by Museum staff and volunteers in the traditional manner, she was launched in August 1993. Freightways Ltd sponsored her construction with assistance by many other firms.


The Beach Store

From shipwrecks to Kiwiana, ocean-going ships to the Hamilton jet, New Zealanders have ties to the ocean like few other nations on earth. Marvel at our displays of maritime disaster and triumph, a typical 1950s beach bach and shop, border protection, the progression to modern methods of navigation and fishing, and even icons of our sporting prowess, including the gold-medal winning eight-man skiff from the Munich Olympics and the successful trans Atlantic row boat used by Rob Hamill and the late Phil Stubbs.

A Tribute to Sir Peter Blake

NZL 32, or Black Magic, the International America's Cup Class yacht that won the 1995 America's Cup.

New Zealand’s most celebrated mariner, Sir Peter Blake was a peerless ocean racer and passionate environmentalist. This stunning permanent exhibition celebrates his remarkable achievements, as well as paying tribute to New Zealand's world-renowned design and yachting prowess. Learn about the astonishing maritime achievements of a nation, which has at one time or another, held every significant blue-water sailing trophy in the world.


Children play in the wheelhouse of Takapuna, a former Devonport Steam Ferry.

Also working on the water, ferries were an important part of early travel, connecting New Zealanders with one another in the absence of roads. Enter the actual wheelhouse and take control of Takapuna, a former Devonport Steam Ferry..


Whaling Gallery

As some of the earliest settlers, whalers and sealers survived harsh conditions to work the bountiful hunting grounds around New Zealand’s coasts.

The Immigrants

Immigrants Gallery

Re-live the stories of immigrants from the 1850s through to the 1960s, as they leave their homes, families, and possessions for a life on the other side of the world, including an accurate reproduction of an 1840s steerage cabin that actually rocks to simulate life on the sea.

Coastal Trade

Coastal Trade Gallery

See how coastal trade became fundamental to establishing New Zealand as a nation as the lifeline between our many ports and harbours. The gallery includes the vessel Rewa - a genuine coastal cutter used for trade and built in the 1800s, around which the Museum was built prior to its opening in 1993.

European Landfalls

European Landfalls Gallery

The journeys undertaken by early European explorers were truly remarkable and form an important part of New Zealand's maritime history. The gallery now tells the stories of Dutch, English, French and Spanish explorers as they set sail to the far side of the world, searching for the fabled 'Great Southern Land'. The achievements of each nation are highlighted as they ventured through the South Pacific, and visitors will be able to compare the varying conditions the sailors from each nation endured when embarking on epic voyages that were years on the making.