Dunedin science centre finishes $3m redevelopment

Giant stick insects and an immense DNA slide are just two of the attractions at a new science centre opening in Dunedin.

Tuhura is the new interactive facility at Otago Museum, aimed at blending fun with learning.

A seven-and-a-half metre high slide is one of the feature pieces of the new science centre.

Inspired by the DNA double helix, the illuminated slide has a secret message encoded into its base. Ian Griffin, Otago Museum Director says the slide isn't just for show. 

"So, not only is it an awesome thing to slide down and you go down really quickly and it's brilliant, but actually there's some really cool science in there."

Developers have borrowed some of the best ideas from around the world for the hands-on science centre. The $3 million redevelopment features 50 new exhibits and while it may seem like a kids' playground, Tuhura aims to be a place of interactive learning.

"We've designed it deliberately to be huge fun for the whole family, and also to try and create interactives that families can do together," Mr Griffin told Newshub. 

Bicultural elements have also been woven throughout the new science centre, including in the "infinity room" lights and mirrors experience.

The popular 'Tropical Forest' exhibit has also had a refresh. It's now home to more than a thousand exotic butterflies and a range of other species.

Some of the newest residents are female goliath stick insects, native to Australia, which grow up to 30 centimetres in length. 

Living environments communicator Eden Grey filled us in on the fascinating creatures.

"The females have this amazing ability to reproduce using this process called pathogenesis. So, in the absence of a male, they can just reproduce by cloning themselves."

Tuhura opens its doors to the public on Saturday morning, with a 100,000 people expected to visit over its first year.