Central North Island
Taupo Lava Glass Gardens
A garden made of glass sounds like a fanciful notion, the sort that Alice might have come across in Wonderland – curiouser and curiouser. But you don’t have to fall down a rabbit hole to discover this spectacle created in a natural amphitheatre of land just outside Taupo. Just park your vehicle and walk a few metres to find a man-made fantasy that rivals the area’s natural attractions. When The Right Honourable John Key pronounced the Lava Glass Garden open in April 2014, it was no surprise that it quickly became the talk of the town. The garden doesn’t stand alone. It’s a large extension to the adjacent complex of studio, showroom and cafe that are housed in purpose built sheds of white corrugated iron. These were first set up in 2002 by Lynden Over, one of New Zealand’s notable glass artists, and his wife Christine. In the showroom, the range of stunning highly coloured bowls, paperweights, vases and sculptures of blown glass are displayed so that natural light beaming through the large windows shows them to best advantage. Although most of them are Lynden’s creations, the work of other top glass artists are sometimes represented. Most times of the day Lynden is to be found hard at work in his studio thrusting molten glass in and out of scary looking furnaces that are capable of producing an inconceivable 1000° Celsius of heat. I watched him slowly turning what looked like a glob of glowing melted toffee at the end of a blowpipe. Gradually it took shape as he patted, rolled and dipped the mass in and out of the fierce flames. “The hues and shapes of the pieces are inspired by landscapes and native flora, particularly those of the Central Plateau,” he told me, as right before my eyes he fashioned an oblong vase of muted earth colours, which was based, he says, on river rock. His latest lava series is inspired by 13 different local landscapes depicting elements from volcanoes, hills, tussock, lakes and waterfalls. The process of glass blowing is made all the more interesting by the fact that it’s thousands of years old. The technique was created in the middle of the last century BC when it was discovered that introducing a small amount of air to molten glass resulted in its expansion. Read the full article in issue #134 of Motorhomes Caravans & Destinations magazine (on sale now!). Subscribe here.