8 great art experiences

Photography by: Patrick Reynolds, Chris McLennan, Michael O’ Neill/Te Papa


New Plymouth s Len Lye Centre New Plymouth’s Len Lye Centre New Plymouth s Len Lye Centre
taupo mine bay carvings with kayakers Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings taupo mine bay carvings with kayakers
Turangawaewae Art and New Zealand installation view 2018 Photograph by Michael O Neill Te Papa Turangawaewae Art and New Zealand Turangawaewae Art and New Zealand installation view 2018 Photograph by Michael O Neill Te Papa

New Zealand is home to some fabulous art galleries, trails, and unique experiences. We’ve put together a list of eight great such places around the country worth checking out.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre – New Plymouth

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New Plymouth’s Len Lye Centre

Shining brightly on New Plymouth’s Queen Street, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is New Zealand’s contemporary art museum and home to the the Len Lye Centre. The exterior of the building is an artwork in itself, with wave-like walls constructed of reflective stainless steel.

Current exhibitions include Mikala Dwyer’s Earthcraft, Len Lye’s No Trouble, and Shannon Novak’s Sub Rosa. Note that exhibitions will be changing during the period 23 July – 4 August.

Gibbs Farm – Kaipara Harbour

Located an hour north of Auckland amid rural farmland, Gibbs Farm is an art experience quite unlike any other. Owner-philanthropist Alan Gibbs has amassed sculptures from some of the world’s most respected artists, including Neil Dawson, Ralph Hotere, and Jeff Thomson.

But these are not your average garden-sized sculptures. Some are absolutely mammoth and need to be seen to be believed. But take note; to see Gibbs Farm for yourself, you’ll need to request an appointment using the online form at gibbsfarm.org.nz.

Toi Art – Te Papa

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Turangawaewae Art and New Zealand

Toi Art is located on levels 4 and 5 in Te Papa, Wellington. The heart of Toi Art is Turangawaewae: Te Toi o Aotearoa, which displays beloved works from the national collection with paintings by C F Goldie, Gottfried Lindauer, Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere, Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, and Robyn Kahukiwa. Current exhibitions include Walters’ New Vision.

New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute – Rotorua

Housed within Te Puia in Rotorua, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute trains students in traditional arts, including stone and bone carving, and weaving.

Visitors to Te Puia can take a tour through the institute and watch students being trained by master artists as they create stunning art pieces. The institute is also home to the Ta Moko Studio – ta moko being a traditional Maori tattoo – where world-renowned artists showcase this special art form.

Dunedin Street Art Trail

Experience over 30 vibrant, whimsical artworks by local and international artists on the Dunedin Street Art Trail. Artists include ROA (Belgium), Pixel Pancho (Italy), Phlegm (UK), Natalia Rak (Poland), DALeast (China), Mica Still (New Zealand) and more. This self-guided walk takes around 90 minutes. Maps are available at the Dunedin i-Site Visitor Centre.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki

Auckland Art Gallery has the most extensive collection of national and international art in the country. Current exhibitions include Frances Hodgkins’ European Journeys, which brings together artworks from New Zealand and around the globe to explore the artist’s place in 20th century art.

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu

Reopening in 2015 after post-earthquake refurbishments, the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, on Montreal Street, is a must-see for art enthusiasts and visitors to the Garden City.

The gallery houses a large collection of its own, as well as showcasing art from Kiwi and international artists. Current exhibitions include William Wegman’s Being Human (until 28 July) which tracks three decades of the relationship between the American artist and his dogs.

Mine Bay Maori Rock carvings – Taupo

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Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

When traditional Maori carver Matahi Brightwell and a team of four artists made a 14-foot carving of the tattooed face of his ancestor Ngatoroirangi on a rock alcove at Mine Bay, Taupo, he had no idea it would one day become one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.

Many describe viewing this unique artwork as a spiritual experience. The carving can only be accessed by boat or kayak (guided tours are available).

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