Christchurch Art Gallery

Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū is a public art gallery in Christchurch.

The Art Gallery opened in 2003 replacing the Robert McDougall Art Gallery as the city’s public art gallery. The building was used as the Civil Defence headquarters following the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. Although the building was designed to deal with seismic events it did occur some damage during an earthquake. The gallery reopened on 19 December 2015.

There are tours at 11am and 2pm daily with a volunteer guide. The tour lasts approximately 45 to 60 minutes and is a good overview of the collection.

The exhibitions are arranged across two floors connected by a marble staircase – although check out the art piece located in the lift.

The Christchurch Art Gallery, which is located on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Montreal Street, is open 7 days from 10am to 5pm with a late night on Wednesday.

‘Mission Statement: First we take Island Bay then take Berlin’, (Peter Robinson, 1997)
‘Not of this Time (Dreamland)’, (John Pule, 2008)
‘The Haymaker Series I-V’, (Shane Cotton, 2012)
‘chicken / man’, (Ron Mueck, 2019)
‘The Fall of Icarus (after Bruegel)’, (Bill Hammond, 1995)
‘Dispersed Humanoids Part 1’, (Andy Leleisi’uao)
‘Untitled [T & G Mural]’, (Russell Clark, 1962)

Orana Wildlife Park, Christchurch

Orana Wildlife Park is New Zealand’s only open-range zoo sitting on 80 hectares of land, located just outside of Christchurch.

Orana Park opened in 1976 as a drive-through open-range zoo. What made it popular in the early years was its drive-through lion reserve. The lions were known for climbing on top of vehicles.

In 1995 Orana changed its business model. Visitors could no longer drive through the park. They would walk around the park or ride on the complimentary shuttle. This also meant the drive-through lion reserve closed. Today for an additional cost visitors can do the Lion Encounter. They will hop onboard a vehicle with the zoo keepers that drives through the lion enclosure. The keepers will feed the lions from within the safety of the vehicle. As you can see from the photos below the lions will often climb on top of the vehicle.

There are other activities, which are included in the standard zoo entrance price that offer visitors the chance to feed or see animals up close. There is the opportunity to hand feed a giraffe twice day and in the afternoon at the rhino encounter visitors will be only a few feet from a white rhinoceros (safely separated by two fences of course).

The day I visited there were also keeper talks for the Meerkats, Kea, farmyard animals, Tasmanian Devils, Trout and Gorilla.

There is also the Safari Shuttle, which provides guided commentary as it circuits the park. This takes approximately 25 minutes.

Orana Wildlife Park is located at 493 McLeans Island Road, Christchurch.

Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

The Isaac Theatre Royal is a heritage theatre in Christchurch.

The theatre, which was designed by Australian brothers Sidney and Alfred Luttrell, opened in 1908. It is the only operational Edwardian style theatre remaining in New Zealand.

The first theatre on Gloucester Street, the Canterbury Music Hall, a wooden building was built in 1863, on a site across the road from the current theatre. The theatre later became the Royal Princess Theatre and then the Theatre Royal. This building was replaced by another wooden building in 1876.

The new Theatre Royal opened on its current site in February 1908. Its design included a traditional horseshoe-shaped dress circle and gallery, elaborately decorated walls and a painted dome. The theatre has had several renovations over the years. In 1928 the theatre interior had a major rebuild – only the dome, which features a painting of scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, remained untouched.

By the 1970s owner J.C. Williamson Theatres were scaling down investments in New Zealand. As a buyer was unable to be found it appeared the theatre would be demolished and the land sold. A group ‘Friends of the Christchurch Theatre Royal’ was formed to try and save the theatre. The Theatre Royal Foundation was later formed that raised the funds to buy the theatre from Williamson.

For many years restoration work was carried out with very little budget. Between 2004 and 2005, a $6.2 million redevelopment was undertaken. This included demolishing the original brick fly tower and dressing room facilities and building a larger modern concrete fly tower and dressing room facilities. The stage and fly tower was made wider and deeper.

Unfortunately the auditorium and foyer were damaged during the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and following aftershocks. The theatre was closed for nearly four years while a $40 million restoration was completed. The theatre reopened on the 17 November 2014.

The main auditorium seats up to 1292 across three levels – Stalls, Dress Circle and Grand Circle. There is also the Gloucester Room, which is a studio space suitable for rehearsals, workshops and performances.

The theatre is named after art patron Lady Diana Isaac, who generously supported the 2004/05 refurbishment. Lady Isaac passed away 23 November 2012, aged 91.

The Isaac Theatre Royal is at 145 Gloucester Street. It is just around the corner from the New Regent Street Precinct.

Van Gogh Alive

Van Gogh Alive is a large-scale immersive multi-sensory experience featuring the works of Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh Alive opened today Saturday April 10th at Spark Arena in Auckland. It is on until May 6th. I had the opportunity to see it last month at the National Air Force Museum in Christchurch.

The exhibition features over 3,000 images that are projected over the walls and floors. The giant projections are set to a score of classical music. The experience uses 40 high-definition projectors and cinema-quality surround sound.

On arriving visitors will enter the Interpretive Area, which offers visitors the chance to familiarise themselves with the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh before entering the sensory experience.

There are many Instagram worthy moments to be had, including a three-dimensional life-size version of ‘Van Gogh’s Bedroom’ and a sunflower-filled mirrored hall.

Vincent Willem Van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most influential figures in Western art history.

Over a decade Van Gogh created about 2,100 pieces of art, including about 860 oil paintings. Most of these were made in the last two years of his life. These included landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits. His works were often characterised by bold colours and dramatic expressive brushwork.

TSB Festival of Lights

The TSB Festival of Lights is an annual summer light held at Pukekura Park in New Plymouth.

The festival is New Zealand’s longest-running light show, which has been running since 1993.

The event runs for six weeks over summer. The lights are on from 8.30pm to 11pm. A siren sounds at 10:45pm to notify visitors to vacate park before the lights are turned off.

The 2020-21 festival closes 31 January 2021. The main entrance to Pukekura Park is 10 Fillis Street, New Plymouth.

The Crescent Playground and Lookout, Wellington

The Crescent Playground in the Wellington suburb of Roseneath on the north-eastern slope of Mount Victoria provides stunning views of the city and harbour.

I had arrived in Wellington early before most attractions and businesses had opened so I went for a Sunday morning stroll along Oriental Parade around Wellington harbour.

At one point I crossed the road and walked up the path for the Mount Victoria Southern Walkway. But rather than following the walkway towards Newtown I walked up to the Crescent Play Area for views of the city and harbour.

It is also possible to access the playground at 18 The Crescent (a street in Roseneath). There is some street parking and few off street parking spaces right at the top of the slide. Children can enter the playground via the slide.

Toi Art at Te Papa

Toi Art is an immersive art gallery space at the The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The web of time (Chiharu Shiota)

The art gallery space that covers two floors of the museum opened in 2018 and it has long-term and short-term installations.

One of the highlights at the the level 4 entrance is Chiharu Shiota’s The web of time. Shiota is a Japanese-born Berlin-based artist. Her design represents a night sky covered with constellations of numbers.

The carefully woven web tunnel that visitors walk through is two-storey high and made from 3,750 balls of black wool.

Turangaewaewae: Art of New Zealand is a long-term exhibition that covers five galleries and explores New Zealand identity and cross-cultural exchange through art from Te Papa’s national art collection.

Featured throughout these galleries are works by prominent artist Colin McCahon (1919-1987), who is credited with introducing modernism to New Zealand.

Janet Lilo’s giant three-dimensional profile page explores how social media allows us to shape our identities online. The installation was developed over 10 years and features thousands of images and videos that Lilo collected from social media sites Bebo, Facebooks, Myspace, and YouTube.

Top16 (Janet Lilo)

Another long-term exhibition is Kaleidoscope: Abstract Aotearoa, which explores abstract art from New Zealand and the Pacific through colour, shape and patterns.

Following on from this there is Tiffany Singh’s Indra’s bow & Total internal reflection, a light installation where visitors can press a button to choose the colour of the room based on their mood.

When I visited there was also a temporary exhibition Modern Living: Design in 1950s New Zealand. This exhibition is based on a 1952 exhibition ‘Art and Design’. This exhibition is on until 26 April 2021.

Toi Art located on levels 4 and 5 of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 55 Cable Street, Wellington. Te Papa is open daily 10am – 6pm and is free to visit.

WOW Up Close at Te Papa – World of Wearable Art

World of Wearable Art – Up Close is a temporary exhibition on at The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The first World of WearableArt (WOW) show took place in Nelson, New Zealand in 1987. Today the annual WOW Awards are held in Wellington and attract entrants from over 40 countries.

The exhibition features 38 wearable art pieces from designers from Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States. 18 of the pieces are from New Zealand designers.

Tickets are $22.50 for adults and $7.50 for children (3-15 years). There are family and concession tickets available.

The exhibition is on level 4 at Te Papa, and is open everyday from 10am to 6pm until 14 February 2021.

QT Wellington

QT Wellington in a boutique hotel on Wellington’s waterfront located opposite The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

The hotel building was originally located on the site where Te Papa is. In 1993 it was due for demolition to make way for the New Zealand’s National Museum. Former city councillor and businessman Chris Parkin relocated the concrete building 180 metres down and across the road. Parkin was named Wellingtonian of the Year for his efforts.

Parkin later expanded the hotel into the adjacent buildings and the hotel housed his extensive art collection operating as the Museum Art Hotel.

Photo of QT Wellington taken from Te Papa on wet Wellington day

The Museum Art Hotel was sold to Australian company Amalgamated Holdings in 2015 and became QT Wellington. The hotel underwent a $12 million renovation and rebranding.

As of last year Parkin was still living at the hotel in an eight floor apartment. Parkin’s art collection is still leased to QT. Although that lease is due to end this year and Parkin has plans to house his collection in a gallery space in a new building development.

I stayed in an Executive Harbourview One Bedroom Apartment. The apartment had a small gully kitchen, separate bedroom and living area, and bathroom with rain shower and deep bathtub.

They also have executive studio and two bedroom apartments. The apartments are located towards the back of the building and have separate lift access. The hotel rooms, which include deluxe and harbourview rooms are located at the front of the hotel and have access from main lobby.

There are two restaurants, French-inspired Hippopotamus and Asian infusion Hot Sauce. There is also the Lobby Lounge. I didn’t eat at either of the restaurants. Hippopotamus is only currently open for breakfast.

Even if one does not stay at the QT it is well worth popping into the hotel lobby to admire the artwork.

QT Wellington is at 90 Cable Street, Wellington.

Cordis Auckland by Langham

Cordis Auckland by Langham, is a 5-star hotel in downtown Auckland.

Although this was my first time staying at the Cordis I have visited before. Easter last year I had Easter Lunch at Eight Restaurant. At Eight Restaurant patrons can choose dishes from eight kitchen stations. Also in 2013 following the Coca Cola Christmas in the Park concert I stopped at then Langham to check out their Gingerbread Village.

I booked an Executive Room for two nights prior to Christmas. The room was clean and comfortable but in comparison to other inner city 5 star hotels the room felt a bit dated.

Executive Room guests receive access to Cordis Club Lounge on Level 10. Privileges including complimentary daily breakfast, afternoon tea treats, and evening drinks and canapés.

On the first afternoon I had afternoon tea and on the second day I went to the evening drinks and canapés. The service in the Club Lounge is efficient and pleasant.

Club Lounge guests also receive access to the heated rooftop pool and spa pool, saunas, and herbal steam room at Chaun Spa. I did not use these facilities though.

Cordis Auckland by Langham is at 83 Symonds Street, Auckland Central.