Lovers of art, curios, the unexpected and the glorious should make time for a New Zealand sculpture walk. It’s the perfect way to combine the great outdoors with a visual treat, with sculptures ranging from relaxing, to thought-provoking.
Kaipara Coast Plant Centre & Sculpture Gardens
Keen botanists and those with a love of specialist plants should allow an hour or two for plant centre in Kaukapakapa, a 40-minute drive north from Auckland. Specialist growers of plants for Auckland since 1989, owners Geraldine and David Bayly have created a native and themed oasis. Listen to the native birds as you enjoy over 40 sculptures from some of New Zealand’s leading artists, in 3.5km of garden, sculpture and forest trails, all set with a backdrop of the sparkling Kaipara Harbour. Sculptures are for sale, and the display changes every November. No dogs allowed; not suitable for wheelchairs or walking frames.
The Sculpture Gardens, Sculptureum Matakana
A delightful amble around three sculpture gardens that extend over 1.5km of flat paths. Each of the three sculpture gardens feature sculptures, prehistoric rocks, live animals and reflective quotes, all surrounded by plantings that are changed regularly to suit the season. A wonderful idea for a picnic in the splendid gardens, and if you’re missing the idea of restaurant meals, their on-site restaurant, Rothko, is offering click & collect between Thursday and Sunday.
Brick Bay Sculpture
One of New Zealand’s best-known sculpture gardens, Brick Bay in Warkworth presents an exhibition of contemporary sculpture from Kiwi artists, set in a stunning natural environment of native bush, vineyards, farmlands and wetlands, where you’ll encounter wildlife and ponds that are bursting with waterlilies. Artwork ranges in size, and you’ll see over 60 artworks at any time on this abundant 2km walk. Visitors dining at The Glass House receive a discount on trail tickets.
The Sculpture Park At Waitakaruru
The Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum is a stunning environmental Art-In-Nature experience. Built from a derelict former quarry the area has been transformed into a 17.5 hectare arboretum, with close to 30,000 trees from around the world. Along the 2km nature trail, more than 100 New Zealand-made sculptures and installations are on display within one of New Zealand’s largest outdoor galleries.The trail is accessible to most, with a few steps and alternative routes. The car park is motorhome-friendly, and the park is run by the Art-In-Nature Arboretum trust, providing environmental and creative inspiration. No dogs in the main part, but there’s a designated dog area just below the sculpture park.
Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail, Te Ara Whakairo oTe Roto Pūngāwhā
Originally created in 1908 by Dr Arthur Wohlmann, a balneologist, who believed tranquil picturesque surroundings were an essential part of the healing process. (Balneotherapy is the treatment of disease by bathing, usually practiced at spas. Distinct from hydrotherapy, balneotherapy may include massage through moving water, relaxation or stimulation in hot or cold water). In 1969, Wohlmann was treating over 60 New Zealand soldiers a day from WW1, with many soldiers walking the perimeter of the lake as part of the healing process. Now Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail features artwork, from a range of artists. Located opposite the Polynesian Spa on Hinemoa Street, the short walk takes in close to 20 temporary ‘Sculpture Symposium’ pieces. It’s also a fascinating way to see Rotorua.
This north Auckland property is an unusual setting for the largest collection of large-scale outdoor sculptures in New Zealand. Dominated by the Kaipara Harbour, the largest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, artists are challenged by the scale of the landscape. The flow of the land, the immense body of water and the ever-changing elements are all aspects the artist takes into account, and after almost twenty years, Gibbs Farm includes major works by some very acclaimed artists, with exotic animals, a wild west farm and much more.
Dead Dog Bay Gardens, Waiheke Island
This wetland garden and sculpture park showcases contemporary New Zealand art and sculpture in extensive parkland gardens of New Zealand native, exotic trees, shrubs and flowers. A popular spot for special occasions like weddings, this privately-owned garden features steep pathways and beautiful artwork. The best way to Dead Dog Bay is a short stroll from the more easily walked Okoka Beach Path, at the end of Margaret Reeve Lane.
Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park
Nestled against the dramatic landscape of the Waipara Valley wine region, an easy 50-minute drive from Christchurch, Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park was created by Raymond Herber. Raymond purchased the abandoned limeworks in 1997, and transformed it into a magical wonderland of graceful, strong sculptures set against a native garden. The sculpture park is great for all ages; bring a picnic and make a day of it.
Note: Due to COVID restrictions, we recommend calling or checking online before visiting to check opening times.