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Just a few more sleeps!

19 OctCommunity / Exhibitions

Santa’s Cave Centenary begins next month.

On Christmas Eve, 1918, Santa’s Cave opened for the first time at the Collinson & Cunninghame department store. Now, 100 years later, Te Manawa is keeping the tradition alive as home to the Christmas wonderland that continues to delight children and their families to this day.

As part of the centenary celebration, visitors will be able to experience some exciting changes that lie in store, including a new facade honoring the origins and history of Santa’s Cave.

The centrepiece of the Cave is the carousel. It’s been out of action for the past two years as its age caught up with it – it’s older than the Cave itself, after all. Its moving parts were replaced and the central shaft was x-rayed to check its condition; an electronic brake was added, among other new safety measures; and it was given a fresh coat of paint. The work to restore it was made possible by a generous donation from Margot Thompson, great-niece of store founder Leo Collinson.

The railway display has been updated too. The first thing visitors will notice is its new position, no mean feat for such a large slice of model real estate. It’s more hands-on now as well. In the past the train just went round and round by itself, but a new interactive system has been installed and children – and no doubt a few adults  – can take the controls.

Santa’s Cave is by far the most beloved exhibition at Te Manawa, and is kept alive by donations from businesses and the community. The team looks forward to once again sparking fond memories in generations of Kiwis from Palmerston North, Manawatū and beyond.

Santa’s Cave opens this year on 22 November. For Santa’s Timetable and a list of events and activities including special family nights, visit our Santa’s Cave page.