Te Papa Learning

Te Papa Museum in Wellington is one of our favourite weekly haunts. We’ve been going at least once a week since Charlotte was born. In her early months she mostly slept and I enjoyed a chance to peruse the exhibits and make use of the excellent parent facilities and dedicated rooms for feeding bubs (not that I was shy about it, but the comfy armchairs are good enough to catch a few winks!).

Visitations in Charlotte’s ‘terrible twos’ were complete with a couple of unforgettable tantrums (poor Dan took the brunt of the worse one, when Charlotte was adamant he would not put her trousers back on for her after a toilet visit – she ran out into the main concourse, with a naked bottom, screaming her head off to an audience of onlookers from the surrounding balconies!). My worse memory was Charlotte’s difficulty in understanding the concept of a ‘stranger’ bringing food to our table in the cafe and her throwing a saucer to the floor in rage. She also went through several months of wanting to control all the doors (woe betide anyone who dared to open a door for us!). We spent hours doing ‘role-plays’ at home before she finally got the message that it was ‘okay’ to permit a ‘stranger’ to open a door for us and that this was a nice, polite thing to do.

Charlotte showing her incredible strength (learning that pumice isn’t as heavy as it looks!):

We are such regulars that the staff know us personally and we always get a couple of extra marshmallows with our essential morning/afternoon tea beverages (thankfully no saucers are thrown in rage these days!). Charlotte considers the museum a second home and races ahead to her favourite spots (to aghast looks in my direction from other visitors at my nonchalance).

The museum opens at 10am, but thankfully the Te Papa Cafe, ‘Bush City‘ and the wonderful gift store all open at 9am. The cafe has a wonderful area for children (and was a hit for Charlotte’s 3rd Birthday!), with giant lego, building blocks and a magnetic board. We’ve met some wonderful people and learned many lessons about sharing and playing ‘nicely’ with other children! Outside, in Bush City, there’s an array of wonderful things to do, from caving and digging up a dinosaur fossil to feeding the ducks and walking across a swing bridge. The native bush is beautiful and we’ve even seen a few wetas!

At 10am we head up to Level 2 (counting the steps on the way!) to start our visit with some ‘thrills and spills’. The ‘Magic Lilo’ ride is a favourite and at the cost of $2 it is better than any ‘gimmicky’ ride in a shopping mall. The ‘lilo’ takes a simulated ride over New Zealand’s stunning scenery with a beautiful finale of a fireworks display over Wellington.

If we’re not heading for ‘Story Place‘ (five sessions run every day of the year, with the first at 10.15am) then we usually head to ‘Awesome Forces‘ and ‘Nature Space’, one of Te Papa’s four excellent‘Discovery Centres’ for children. Charlotte’s love of geothermal wonders was born here (though she still hasn’t braved the earthquake simulator!).

Charlotte sniffing a model of a ‘Rafflesia Plant’ (the world’s biggest and smelliest flower!) and a photograph of some of her creations from Story Place:

Level 4 houses three Discovery Centres, where we love to learn about the Pacific, Maori heritage, dress-up, dance, draw, read and socialize with other little learners!