Walk Through Aviation History – The Peter Jackson Omaka Aviation Centre in Blenheim, New Zealand


Aviation Centre

This is Not Your Typical Museum…

“Do you want to go to the aviation museum?” asked our guide, Kate, in Blenheim, New Zealand. Honestly, it didn’t see too appealing on this beautiful Spring day in New Zealand.  After all, we are in the heart of wine country!

Then she told me that it was Peter Jackson’s museum, the favorite son of New Zealand designed it himself.

Well now that sells it better!

Omaka Aviation Centre 2 - Peanuts or Pretzels

Prepare to Step Onto a Movie Set at the Omaka Aviation Center

The moment we opened the doors from the gift shop into the Omaka Aviation Centre museum itself, our whole mood changed.  We were immediately overcome with a feeling as though we had just been transported back in time.

For those of you who don’t know, Peter Jackson is world renown film director, producer and screenwriter known for his world famous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogy movie series.  So this was not your ordinary airplane museum or a hangar full of planes.  This was a life-size work of art, almost like a movie set.

Omaka Aviation Centre 3 - Peanuts or Pretzels

Just looking at the first two exhibits, the two of us were in awe.  The way the Omaka Aviation Centre displays are arranged, it makes you feel as though you are watching moments in time, as though they are happening live right in front of you.  As a guest, you are not standing outside a pane of glass looking at an exhibit, you feel like you are IN the exhibit.

Omaka Aviation Centre 4 - Peanuts or Pretzels

Real Moments in Time, and Emotion, Bring the Exhibits to Life

The attention to detail is really what makes the museum so impressive.  Each scene was carefully constructed to depict moments in time, from the emotion on the faces of the people, to the shape of the “mud” on the ground to make it look like the plane just landed, and even the reflection of the water puddles on the ground.

It looked so real, but not in a creepy way, in a mesmerizing way.  I felt like I was there in real life.

Liz and Kat at Omaka Aviation - Peanuts or Pretzels

Volunteers Act as Free Guides to Guests

There are many volunteer free guides that walk around the museum, offering their assistance to guests.  We were met but an older gentleman at the start of our journey.  We could easily feel his passion for aviation, and his knowledge was incredible!  We were so fascinated and enjoyed talking with him so much, that he ended up taking us on a complete guided tour of the entire museum!

So much History Omaka Aviation - Peanuts or Pretzels

Welcome to Peter’s Personal Collection

He would later tell us this was Peter Jackson’s personal collection. Wow, no wonder he needed a museum to hold it all.  There are SO many unique aircraft, all in pristine condition.  And there seemed to be thousands of other artifacts too.  Even uniforms, weapons, awards, letters, and other personal affects from soldiers on all sides of the war.

How do you even begin to collect all of this?!?!

Omaka Aviation Centre - Peanuts or Pretzels

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Omaka Aviation Centre 5 - Peanuts or Pretzels

Omaka Aviation Centre 1 - Peanuts or Pretzels

The Red Barron Omaka Aviation Centre - Peanuts or Pretzels

Omaka Aviation Centre 7 - Peanuts or Pretzels

The Omaka Aviation Centre is a perfect example of what a museum should be like. The detail that Peter Jackson put into showing off his collection was just incredible. It set the bar extremely high.  Liz and I walked out of the museum saying that we could keep going back, and it would never get told.

Omaka Aviation Air Shows & Rides

The Omaka Aviation Centre still does plenty of flying. We learned that many of the planes in the exhibit can still fly.  Guests are able to book a ride on some of these planes too – how about that for aviation lovers!  The center also holds events and air shows to display the aircraft to the community.

Expansion!  They are planning to open a new WWII wing to the museum in the future, to house yet another amazing collection!

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