The Land Gallery displays the dramatic contrasts of New Zealand's environment. From snowy peaks to active volcanos, limestone caves to lush sub-tropical forests and wetlands. Land takes the visitor on a journey from mountain to wetland, revealing the plants, fungi, birds, reptiles and freshwater fish that make this land unique.
The Land Gallery continues the story which begins in the Origins Gallery. The Land Gallery takes visitors on a topographical journey from the alpine regions of New Zealand, through a mountain beech forest, then to a rimu forest and down into the wetlands of a lagoon. The diversity of plant and animal life in this country is shown through the recreation of a number of habitats in the gallery.
These specially constructed displays enable visitors to closely examine a slice of forest floor, or the upper branches of a giant kauri tree or beneath the surface of a pond teaming with living insect life. Visitors can also see the bird life that depends on these little ecosystems. All the displays are based on specific locations to ensure a high degree of accuracy and realism.
Visitors can walk into a limestone cave, complete with cave weta, live glow worms and stalagmites. The walls of the cave have been modeled from limestone caves in New Zealand's Waitomo region.
The kauri tree - spanning three storeys of what was a former stairwell in the old Museum - is a good example of the ingenuity employed when creating these displays. The trunk was cast from real kauri bark. The leaves are real too, plucked from the kauri grove in Cornwall Park. They were freeze-dried, painted and then painstakingly glued back onto the branches. Native birds, including a pair of moreporks (ruru), kingfishers, New Zealand pigeons (kereru) and a red-crowned parakeet, perch in its branches, while kiwis fossick at its base. A viewing platform allows visitors to view the canopy of the tree and day and night scenes are created with the help of sound and light. Twenty-four hours of bird song is condensed into two - from the dawn chorus to morepork cries.
All the leaves, toadstools, mushrooms, ferns and insects in the gallery were freeze-dried to prepare them for display.