The Great War Exhibition

Dominion Museum Building, Wellington NZ

When planning the Wellington part of my New Zealand trip, this exhibition was the only thing I had on my list of things to do in Wellington! I had read about it, Peter Jackson (he of the Lord of the Rings movies) had put this exhibition together. It was opened in April 2015 (the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli and it's due to close on November 11th 2018. (Armistice Day)

The exhibition begins with you walking into a model of a Belgian street from 1914.

You then move into the early part of the war in Europe.

Buses were used to transport troops in the early part of the war, they were simply painted brown.

This is was so well done you can see the red colour of the bus under the brown as well as the advertising that was on the bus.

The trenches.

As well as the European war, there was a Gallipoli section of the exhibition with hand coloured photographs.

Sniper and observer.

In the early days of the Gallipoli campaign, the soldiers were so poorly equipped that they made their own hand grenades using old cans filled with nails and screws.

The centrepiece was the huge model of Chanuk Bair, a major battle involving the New Zealand troops. It was the highest point that was captured by the allies during the Gallipoli campaign. There are 5000 handpainted figures that make up this diorama.

After 9 months the decision was made to retreat and evacuate the troops from Gallipoli. To hide the fact that they were evacuating from the Turks, it had to appear as though the ANZACs were still in the trenches below. So these phantom guns were set up to fire and the Turks would think the ANZACs were randomly firing at them. Water was put in the top pan and drip down to the bottom pan, which once it filled up enough would drop and the rope attached to the trigger would pull, and the rifle would fire.

When you exit you walk against a ship's hull. (I made a mistake entering the exhibition and entered it by going up the ramp, saw the Gallipoli part and then wondered why I could access the other parts of it! A helpful (and somewhat confused!) server in the coffee shop said didn't I see the double doors with 'entrance' on them? I did but also saw the open ramp and went up that! Went back through the doors and into the beginning of the exhibition which was Belgium in 1914.

The Great War Exhibition is at the Dominion Museum which is in the grounds of the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

The Wellington War Memorial with the Dominion Museum behind it.

Inside the memorial.

Pukeahu War Memorial Park is a 10 to 15 minute walk from Te Papa National Museum where the Gallipoli exhibition is being held. Both exhibitions are excellent, but I would suggest seeing them on different days, otherwise it's a World War I overdose!