Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) is the biggest museum of its type in New Zealand, dedicated to the nation’s transport, technology, and social history. MOTAT houses many attractions, including working steam trains and tramways, perfectly preserved WWII planes, and a Victorian-era village full of historical artifacts.
MOTAT’s biggest draw is its remarkable collection of old vehicles, including military vehicles, old Auckland buses, a variety of 19th- and 20th-century fire engines, and more from the last 100-plus years of New Zealand’s transport history. From the museum’s Great North Road site, you can take one a well-preserved tram to the MOTAT Aviation Hall on Meola Road, where a wide variety of commercial, recreational, and military aircraft are on display. In the Historic Village, step back in time to Victorian-era New Zealand while you explore a wide range of buildings and artifacts from the country’s past; on Sundays the village comes alive, with a working forge, operating printing presses, handcraft-making sessions for kids, and more. MOTAT also hosts temporary science and technology exhibitions from all over the world.
Many travelers visit the museum independently, and it’s also a stop on the Auckland hop-on hop-off bus. Regular visitors can pick up an annual pass that gives unlimited entry to the museum and discounts to nearby attractions.
Things to Know Before You Go
- MOTAT is tailor-made for technology, science, and transport nuts of all ages.
- MOTAT runs children’s programs every school holiday, making it a great place to take the kids during those two weeks.
- Expect to spend about four hours exploring both sites.
- Automobile enthusiasts can see the museum’s old vehicles get restored every Wednesday and Sunday at the Road Transport Workshop.
- Refuel at the on-site Araroa Tearooms and Oriel’s Ice Cream Partner.
- If you’re going to the Auckland Zoo next, MOTAT’s tram can drop you off right at the zoo entrance.
- Most of MOTAT is accessible to wheelchair users; contact the museum if you’re uncertain of any areas.
How to Get There
Located just a few minutes out of central Auckland, MOTAT’s main site is located on Great North Road in Western Springs. If driving, follow the North Western Motorway from central Auckland and take the Western Springs turnoff (St Lukes Road exit 6). You can also take the bus 18 to Stop 8122, right outside MOTAT Great North Road, and then take a MOTAT tram up to the Meola Road site.
When to Get There
MOTAT is open from 10am to 5pm every day except for Christmas and one weekend in March (check the website). The museum buzzes with activities and events every Sunday, but especially so on the third Sunday of each month, when the museum holds its MOTAT Live Days. On these days, the museum rolls out some of their old vehicles for rides (including an operating steam train), holds games and activities for kids, and has live demonstrations of technologies from the Victorian era and earlier.
Ride in an Historic Vehicle
MOTAT’s tramways are operational every day of the week, and a number of their preserved vehicles are operational on MOTAT Live Days. On these special days, you can take a ride on a horse and carriage, on their adorable Little Flick fire engine, or on one of the museum’s steam trains.