Art and Culture in New Zealand

As you tour around New Zealand in your Motorhome, take time to appreciate some of the art and culture of this vibrant country.


Here are some places to visit, see if they spark some ideas!


New Zealand art, sculpture and jewellery is receiving increasing recognition, and many galleries around the country hold exhibitions that feature the works of nationally acclaimed artists, as well as fresh, new talent. Historical artworks are predominantly held in the collections of the larger museums and public libraries in the cities. There are also more than 460 museums around the country, many doubling as art galleries, ranging from specialist regional collections to the impressive national museum Te Papa (Our Place) in Wellington.


Art Galleries


Auckland Art Gallery
Cnr Wellesley & Kitchener Streets, Auckland
Phone +64 9 307 7700
Fax +64 9 302 1096
Email [email protected]


Auckland Art Gallery houses New Zealand’s most significant collection of local and European art. Of special interest in the Main Gallery are early New Zealand landscapes, as well as Maori portraits by Charles Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer. Opened in 1888, this was New Zealand’s first permanent art gallery. It holds more than 10,000 works in the Gallery’s two buildings. The New Gallery focuses on contemporary New Zealand art, and includes modernist artist Colin McCahon.


Gow Langsford Gallery
cnr Kitchener St and Wellesley Street, Auckland
Phone +64 9 303 4290
Fax +64 9 3034302
Email [email protected]


Situated opposite the Auckland Art Gallery, the Gow Langsford Gallery exhibits both contemporary New Zealand paintings and sculpture, as well as international works. Weekdays: 10-6pm; Saturday: 11-3pm.


Lopdell House Gallery
Titirangi Village, cnr Titirangi and Sth Titirangi Road, Waitakere City, Auckland
Phone +64 9 817 8087
Fax +64 9 817 3340
Email [email protected]


The Lopdell House Gallery, about 35mins from Auckland City, is the public art gallery for Waitakere City, presenting around 10 exhibitions annually that reflect contemporary art in New Zealand. The Gallery also profiles artists from the region who are of national significance, and is situated in the scenic Waitakere Ranges. Open 10am-4.30pm daily.


Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
Queen Street, New Plymouth
Phone +64 6 758 5149
Fax +64 6 758 0390
Email [email protected]


Opened in 1970 as New Zealand’s first contemporary art gallery, Govett-Brewster is a contemporary art museum with a permanent collection. It also houses an internationally significant and permanent collection of work by expatriate artist Len Lye. Open daily 10.30am-5pm.


National Library Gallery
Cnr Molesworth/Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington.
Phone +64 4 474 3000
Fax +64 4 474 3035
Email [email protected]


The National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa), located across from New Zealand’s Parliament, is one of the country’s leading cultural and information centres. As well as its library material, there are public exhibitions of the heritage collections. Murals and works of art from the library’s contemporary art collection can be seen throughout the building. Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4:30pm; Sun 1pm-4:30pm.


City Gallery
Civic Square, Wellington
Phone +64 4 8013021
Fax +64 4 8013950
Email [email protected]


Wellington’s City Gallery has forged a reputation for challenging and innovative exhibitions of art, architecture and design, presenting significant NZ artists alongside major international figures. Open 10am-5pm daily.


Dowse Art Museum
35 Laings Road, Lower Hutt
Phone +64 4 570 6666
Fax +64 4 569 5877
Email [email protected]


The Dowse Art Museum holds more than 20 exhibitions a year covering craft from New Zealand and overseas. Six separate gallery spaces, including a large museum wing, cater for a diverse array of exhibition content _ ceramics, glass, textiles, wood, metal and furniture, as well as photography and paintings. Mon-Fri 10am-4pm; Sat-Sun 11am-5pm.


Grove Mill Winery
Waihopai Valley Rd, Marlborough
Phone +64 3 5728200
Fax +64 3 5728211
Email [email protected]


The art gallery is set in magnificent scenery adjacent to a natural wetlands, home to southern bell frogs, pukekos and shags. Open daily 11am-5pm.


The Arts Centre of Christchurch
2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch
Phone +64 3 366 0989
Fax +64 3 379 7576
Email [email protected]


Situated in the historic gothic revival buildings of the original Canterbury University, the Arts Centre is a significant cultural attraction. It offers more than 40 craft studios, galleries and shops, theatres, cinemas, cafes, restaurants and bars and weekend markets. The Arts Centre is home to Te Toi Mana Gallery, a co-operative of Maori and Pacific artists. This is the site where Ernest Rutherford (a renowned New Zealand scientist, the father of nuclear physics) studied and conducted early experiments. Daily 8.30am-5pm.


The Christchurch Art Gallery – Te Puna o Wai Whetu
Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch
Phone +64 3 941 7301
Fax +64 3 365 3942
Email [email protected]


The Christchurch Art Gallery is a building of Neo Classical/Art Deco design located in the Botanic Gardens. Collections include works of historical European art, 20th century New Zealand and contemporary painting. Daily 10 -5 pm, Wed 10 -9pm.


Dunedin Public Art Gallery
30 The Octagon, Dunedin
Phone +64 3 477 4000
Fax: +64 3 4743250
Email [email protected]


The Dunedin Public Art Gallery was founded in 1884 by William Mathew Hodgkins, cultural activist, artist, and father of famous New Zealand painter Frances Hodgkins, some of whose works are on display here. Its collection is one of New Zealand’s best, featuring New Zealand works from 1860 to today. The gallery also has significant holdings of historical European art, Japanese prints, and decorative arts. Open daily 10am-5pm.


For more art galleries, visit



Te Papa
Cable Street, Wellington
Phone +64 4 3817000
Fax +64 4 381 7070
Email [email protected]


New Zealand’s national museum, which opened in 1998, is located on the Wellington waterfront. It is a celebration of New Zealand’s identity – the people, the culture and the environment, and features hi-tech and traditional displays. As well as significant collections of New Zealand art, the taonga (treasures) looked after by Te Papa comprise the largest Maori collection held by any museum in New Zealand, and number almost 16,000. These cover the broad spectrum of Maori art and culture, from the most highly revered and significant cultural heirlooms through to the most humble of day-to-day items, from very early pre-European times to today. Open daily, 10am-6pm (9pm Thursdays).


Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland Domain, Auckland
Phone +64 9 309 0443
Fax +64 9 306 7065

Auckland Museum is one of New Zealand’s best-known historic buildings and its war memorial reflects on New Zealand’s part in the wars of the world. The general museum provides a window on New Zealand’s cultural and natural history and houses a fine collection of Maori treasures and Polynesian artefacts. Open daily 10am-5pm.


Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
805 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland
Phone +64 9 846 0199
Fax +64 9 846 4242
Email [email protected]


MOTAT opened in 1964 and is the largest museum of transport, technology and social history in New Zealand, housing a number of outstanding collections. Open daily 10am-5pm.


New Zealand National Maritime Museum
Cnr Quay/Hobson Streets, (Viaduct Basin, Auckland
Phone +64 9 373 0800
Fax +64 9 377 6000
Email [email protected]


This museum celebrates New Zealand’s maritime heritage and the voyaging traditions and craft of the Pacific. Galleries tell the story of peoples whose lives were forever linked to the sea. In Maori its name is Te Huiteananui-a-Tangaroa, the legendary house belonging to Tangaroa, Maori god of the sea. Summer: 9am-6pm; winter: 9am-5pm.


Rotorua Museum of Art and History,
Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa
Phone +64 7 349 4350
Fax +64 7 349 2819
Email [email protected]


Situated in a lavish Tudor-style building, the Rotorua Museum is of historical significance internationally as well as nationally. The building, originally a bathhouse, opened in 1908 and now houses many significant Maori taonga (treasures). It also holds a fine arts collection and a photographic collection containing more than 70,000 photographic images depicting Rotorua’s past. Open daily (summer); 10am-4.30pm (winter).


Taupo District Museum of Art & History
Story Place, Taupo
Phone +64 7 3784167
Fax +64 7 3789150
Email [email protected]

Three art galleries house the Museum’s art collection and changing art exhibitions. For the dedicated angler, the main exhibition hall displays permanent small exhibitions on trout fishing and Lake Taupo charter boats. There is an Early Settlers exhibition and the Nga Taonga Maori room houses carvings and Maori artefacts. Open daily 10.30am-4.30pm.


Hawke’s Bay Museum
9 Herschell Street / 65 Marine Parade, Napier
Phone +64 6 835 7781
Fax +64 6 835 9249
Email [email protected]


A combined museum and art gallery. Its collection is broad in scope with a special emphasis on Hawke’s Bay history, especially the 1931 earthquake, and contains historical and contemporary art. Open daily 10am-4.30pm.


Canterbury Museum
Rolleston Avenue
Phone +64 3 366 5000
Fax +64-4-366 5622

Email [email protected]


This major New Zealand regional museum holds almost two million collection items. The collections cover a wide range of topics including Canterbury’s first people, the moa hunter Maori and their descendants, the European settlers’ cultural and economic development and local history. Highlights include the Mountfort Gallery of European Decorative Arts and Costume. The Museum is located adjacent to the Botanic Gardens, the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and the Arts Centre. Open daily 9am-5.30pm (summer); 9am-5pm (winter).


Otago Museum
419 Great King Street, Dunedin
Phone +64 3 474 7474
Fax +64 3 477 5993
Email [email protected]


Comprehensive displays of Maori and Pacific heritage, especially Southern Maori culture. There is an excellent collection of New Zealand’s natural history – from penguins to the extinct giant moa, fish, birds and insects. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 12pm-5pm


Southland Museum and Art Gallery
Queens Park, 108 Gala Street, Invercargill
Phone +64 3 218 9753
Fax +64 3 218 3872
Email [email protected]


The Southland Museum and Art Gallery is located in the largest pyramid building in the Southern Hemisphere. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5.00pm; weekends & public holidays 10am-5pm.


For more museums visit,

Arty Places

Little Arty Places – Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf, a 35 min ferry ride from Auckland, has made a name for itself as a haven for writers, artists and craftspeople. There are more than 70 working artists resident on the island, and plenty of vineyards.


Little Arty Places – Nelson

There are more than 300 full-time artists and craftspeople active throughout the Nelson region. They include ceramic artists, sculptors, glassblowers, painters, designers, woodworkers, jewellers and textile artists.


Further Information

Nelson Arts Council
Email [email protected]

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