The Museum of Transport & Technology (MOTAT) offers an entertaining trawl through New Zealand’s vehicular and industrial past, nicely balancing preserving the nation’s machinery while keeping the kids entertained. The jumble of sheds and halls is centred on the restored Western Springs’ pumphouse where the massive 1877 beam engine and associated boiler room mostly sit grandly immobile, except when fired up (generally Thurs noon–1pm & 2–3pm).

Appropriately for an agricultural nation there’s an impressive array of tractors through the ages, with pride of place given to the one Edmund Hillary used to reach the South Pole in 1958, the first overland party there since Scott and Amundsen 46 years earlier.

Elsewhere there’s an entertaining, science-oriented, hands-on section, a Victorian village built around the original pumphouse engineer’s cottage, and a shed full of trams that plied the city’s streets from 1902–56.

An ancient, rattling Melbourne tram (every 10–30min; included in admission price) takes you 1km to MOTAT’s Meola Road site, with its impressive new Aviation Display Hall, a hangar eco-designed with vast laminated wood beams. Star attractions are one of the few surviving World War II Lancaster bombers, early crop-dusting planes a805 Great North Rd, Western Springsnd fragile-looking things that took early tourists to the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers in the days before decent roads. Imminent completion of restoration should see centre stage occupied by a double-decker Solent flying boat, decked out for dining in a more gracious age and used on Air New Zealand’s South Pacific “Coral Route” until the early 1960s.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every corner, with beaches, vineyards…

21 Nov 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right