January 27, 2024

Ngā Taniwha o Rūpapa | Dinosaurs of Patagonia

"The real Roberts has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia." - The Princess Bride

It turns out that places mentioned in childhood movies do exist, and those places were once part of the same land mass as Aotearoa, and (here's the best part) there were dinosaurs. Touring from a palaeontological museum in Argentina, with an excellent integration of te reo and local facts making a unique experience, the Dinosaurs of Patagonia are at Te Papa till the end of April. 


  • A dinosaur with six five fingers
  • Lots of interactive bits for the kids including a talking Tuatara (our own special "dinosaur")
  • 12 casts of mostly dead and mostly recently discovered dinosaurs (creatures so huge, if you stood that close, we'd all be dead)
  • Casts of items you're allowed to touch (but not inhale) clearly labelled
  • A clear timeline to follow as you walk through
Palaeontology is a prestigious line of work with a long and glorious tradition, it's exciting to see finds named after farmers who unearthed them, as well as scientists. The dinosaurs are compared to other, more well known, ones for context. 

It's not often we get exhibitions of this calibre down here, if you miss it, that would be the worst thing I've ever heard. Don't fear crowds, timed tickets mean these are well managed.

There are two things that could be improved:

1. Joan Wiffen's discovery of the first fossils in Aotearoa should be more central. It's hidden in a corner and you'll only know it's there if you specifically read the front of the divider it backs onto and spy it. The fossil in Te Papa's collection wasn't easily found in the Te Taiao | Nature exhibition either. Surely it would make sense to have big flashing lights around it during this exhibit, if not dinosaur prints leading to it.

2. The store is separated from the exhibition, probably due to the difficulty creating the space for this particular show. There are many dinosaur books, toys and figurines but unfortunately there appears to be nothing relating directly to the content of Ngā Taniwha o Rūpapa. Perhaps there aren't published books on these recently discovered finds, or figurines but this is a wasted opportunity to perhaps create a market for the travelling exhibition.

Tickets: $15-30

Showing: 16 Dec 2023 – 28 Apr 2024