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New Zealand's Vibrant Art Scene

New Zealand's art scene gives visitors a window into the vibrant cultures, history and thinking that has created the land of Aotearoa/New Zealand. Whether browsing an up-market gallery, strolling past giant graffiti-inspired murals or exploring the hidden gems of a rural artist's studio, prepare for delight and insight into a unique country's story. 

Let's explore ten iconic artistic delights that await you on the New Zealand art and culture trail. 

 

Little Paradise, Queenstown

Sitting exactly on the 45th parallel — halfway between the equator and the South Pole, Little Paradise is home to hundreds of sculptures created by artist Thomas Schneider. 26 years in the making, these whimsical and thought-provoking pieces are framed by magnificent mountain scenery and the stunning garden, an on-going artwork in itself. 

Instead of wandering through inside galleries, visitors explore the garden and discover art tucked away everywhere. From the stunning visitor's bathroom to the ancient hunter confronting a giant stone moa on a bush-clad hilltop, there's something for everyone to enjoy. 

Street Art, Dunedin & Christchurch

The southern city of Dunedin has an impressive Art Trail with 28 vibrant works centered mainly on the walls around the old warehouse precinct. Gigantic murals by local and international artists explore the city's creative past, present and future. Join your guide to view stunning works that go unnoticed by the majority of Dunedin's tourists.

When Christchurch City was decimated by an earthquake in 2011, the city's artists came to the rescue. Now the rejuvenated city center has blossomed with a wealth of color and more than 50 significant murals for visitors and locals to enjoy. You can enjoy one of the most extensive collections of street art in the Southern Hemisphere as you follow the 'street art trail' and experience the city's regeneration through art. 

Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna O Waiwhetu 

If street art isn't to your fancy, visit the Christchurch Art Gallery in its undulating glass and metal show-stopper of a building. During the day, you can browse the many permanent and visiting collections. At night, marvel at the building's impressive, 46-meter neon artwork "Everything is going to be alright," which lights up the city center each night.  

Toi Art at Te Papa, Wellington  

Toi Art at Te Papa sits lightly within Te Papa, New Zealand's National Museum on the Wellington waterfront. Toi Art's many galleries feature long- and short-term exhibitions, including visiting international exhibitions and important works by many of New Zealand's most renowned artists.  

Len Lye Centre / Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth 

It's impossible to miss the eye-catching, mirrored walls of the Govett-Brewster art gallery in the North Island city of New Plymouth. This gallery honors Len Lye, New Zealand's pioneering filmmaker and kinetic sculptor, and was the first in the country dedicated to a single artist. It's hard to believe how many artworks you'll see here; 18,000 in all. Even the metal architecture of the magnificent building echoes Len Lye's use of metal in so many of his movement-filled sculptures.   

Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings, Lake Taupo 

Combine a water trip and art by kayaking, sailing or cruising in an old steamboat to visit one of New Zealand's treasures. Not the ancient carvings you might expect, this series was carved into an inaccessible rockface beside Lake Taupo by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell. 

The main work was carved to mark the completion of Matahi's ten-year training course. It honors his ancestor Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Māori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupō area over a thousand years ago. 

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, Rotorua  

Explore a thermal wonderland and view exquisite Maori carving and weaving at Te Puia, the home of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute

Outside you'll be amazed by nature's beauty in the bubbling pools and shooting geysers. Inside, you'll find carvings in pounamu (greenstone) bone and wood, as well as weaving in ancient and modern Maori styles. The institute lives up to its aim of encouraging, teaching and promoting all types of Maori art, craft, performance and culture by training many artists each year. 

Auckland Art Gallery / Toi o Tamaki  

The home of the largest permanent collection of New Zealand art, the Auckland Art Gallery / Toi o Tamaki sits in one of Auckland's iconic buildings in the city's heart. 

Four floors of exhibitions showcase centuries worth of New Zealand and international art, including the stunning Toi Tū Toi Ora. 

This extraordinary exhibition leads you through the Maori creation story through the eyes of modern, contemporary art, including painting, clay, jewelry and body adornment, sculpture, printmaking, photography, digital media, film and installation art. 

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour 

The southern hemisphere's largest harbor forms the backdrop for a private collection of gigantic outdoor sculptures. Gibbs Farm - a vast gallery of rolling hills, gullies, cliffs, streams and the ever-present seascape houses commissioned works from many major world artists, including Anish Kapoor, Len Lye and Andy Goldsworthy. 

Although there are a limited number of open days throughout the year, your best chance to visit lies in booking a private tour to see sculptures that range from the ethereal "Horizons" to the electrifying "Electrum (for Len Lye.)" 

Sculptureum, Matakana 

Three sculpture-filled gardens, six art galleries, a cafe/restaurant and vineyards greet visitors to Matakana's Sculptureum, an hour's drive north of Auckland. 

Open to the public from Thursday - Sunday, the works on show include pieces by Cézanne, Chagall and Rodin, along with others by New Zealand artists, all set around the gorgeous gardens.

 

So, there you have it—ten spectacular art experiences to delight your eyes and feed your soul in New Zealand. 

Enter with anticipation and leave entranced.

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