The Air Force Museum of New Zealand is located at a retired air force base at Wigram, near Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand.
The museum is a piece of living history and features over 30 aircrafts which are on permanent display. The Air Force Museum of New Zealand also delves into the history of the New Zealand Air Force and has gone from a small labour of love run by volunteers to become one of the top tourist attractions in the country.
The museum was opened in 1976 and it really took off in 1981, when the Royal New Zealand Air Force established an executive order to make it a part of RNZAF history and commit to funding. The museum is sited on 37 hectares of land and comprises of six buildings, including a large hangar for static aircraft display. Over 30 professional staff run tours and carry out workshops for visitors of all ages.
The museum is also home to a number of memorials of RNZAF airmen that have lost their lives throughout history, from World War II up to the conflict in Korea and Vietnam. There is also a De Havilland Mosquito simulator which allows visitors to experience what it was like to fly the famous wooden wonder of World War II.
There is an exhibit, documenting what the lives of prisoners of war were like during the harrowing years of WWII. Another interesting exhibit is the one that documents the life of the RNZAF’s seaplanes and flying boats. Once a mainstay of air forces around the world, these peculiar birds were no longer viable, but they played a big part in maritime reconnaissance and transport of weapons and supplies to thinly stretched soldiers.
The pride and joy of the museum is the 80 Years in 8 Stories which was set up to commemorate the RNZAF’s 80th anniversary.