Just a word to the wise: when considering a visit to MOTAT (and you should) don’t attempt to go there on a weekend when everyone else in Auckland has the same idea. MOTAT is set on 40 acres of land at the popular Western Springs Park – a destination in itself. It’s adjacent to Auckland Zoo and a sports ground, so competition for parking on the weekends is particularly stiff.

Luckily there are two options for parking at MOTAT, but it’s best to know where you are going first, and you can do that by downloading a map of the site from the MOTAT website. If, like we were, you’re relying on creaky memory and the proffered directions of an eager eight-year-old, you can expect to get a little lost or confused by the directions to MOTAT 2 where – ostensibly – extra car parking exists.

‘Big Ben’ the Double Decker Tram in MOTAT’s Regent Street

And when you find it – yes, there is plenty of parking to be had, as promised – there’s also a wonderful tram service that leisurely plies the tracks between the two MOTAT sites, passing as it does access to both Auckland Zoo and Western Springs. The tram runs approximately every 30 minutes, so you are never going to have to wait too long. I couldn’t care less how long I waited; for me, part of the charm of travelling on such a relic of transport from times past is the joy of watching it slowly rattle into sight.

MOTAT excels at offering the visitor many happy returns to a simpler time. But I am not alone in my enjoyment of all the history on offer, as my granddaughter gleefully tells me her favourite places are also some of mine. We both love the trams – you can see more of these in the tram barn – and all of the old buildings in MOTAT Village – particularly the old shops.

The UNESCO award-winning Pumphouse at MOTAT


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