Open daily, 10am–5pm, Free

419 Great King Street Dunedin, New Zealand



Level 2

Otago's maritime history and rich relationship with the ocean


  • The Wahine model used in the inquiry into the maritime disaster that killed 51 New Zealanders
  • A 17-metre-long juvenile fin whale skeleton 
  • A Siebe Gorman diving suit
  • Models of the Maheno, Mokoia and Marama, passenger vessels that became floating hospitals during WWI


The Maritime Gallery was established by the Otago Maritime Society. They still work with us today to help share the seafaring stories of Otago.

The Union Steam Ship Company (USSCo), also known as "the Southern Octopus", was formed in 1875 by James Mills. It offered both passenger and cargo services. By 1914, it was one of the largest shipping companies in the world.

The gallery has numerous builders’ models of significant USSCo ships. These and other local, national and international vessels highlight advances in shipbuilding techniques, the importance of trade routes and war-time service.

Presiding over the centre of the space is the fin whale skeleton, collected by Captain Jackson Barry in 1882. Barry toured the whale around New Zealand, charging people to dine in its mouth, before giving it to the Museum.

Facts and figures

  • 62 model ships
  • 15 ships' bells
  • The smallest model in the gallery is the Cunard steamship RMS Queen Elizabeth, but she was actually the largest ship in the world when she launched in 1938