New Zealand Now: Contemporary Art and Design
From Len Lye’s iconic 45-metre-tall Wind Wand sculpture in New Plymouth to Shigeru Ban’s ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ in Christchurch, discover how New Zealand’s vibrant cultural life is just as captivating as its stunning landscapes.
Visit Auckland, New Plymouth, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch in the company of contemporary art authority Julie Ewington to discover the country’s multi-cultural, enterprising and feisty art, craft and design scenes.
Enjoy a VIP preview of the 2023 Aotearoa Art Fair, and explore works of painting, photography, printmaking and sculpture from contemporary New Zealand artists, as well as artists from Australia, South East Asia, and across the Pacific.
Appreciate New Zealand’s abundance of creative talent, from ground-breaking work by contemporary Māori and Pacific Islander artists to distinguished architecture and flourishing design, and savour the best of New Zealand’s wines and fresh produce.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Arrive in Auckland on suggested flights and make your own way to the hotel. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements including travel insurance (a condition of travel), private hotel transfer, accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
At 17:00, attend a welcome briefing and talk by your tour leader, Julie Ewington, before attending the invitation-only opening dinner of the Aotearoa Art Fair (previously known as the Auckland Art Fair).
Be among the first to see the works on display at a VIP preview of the Aotearoa Art Fair, New Zealand’s premier showcase for contemporary art. Established in 2005, the Fair is known for its breadth, exploring New Zealand’s relationship with the wider Pacific and presenting the work of established and emerging artists in painting, sculpture, print, photography and digital media.
Following the invitation-only VIP lunch, visit Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, where the collection includes major collections of historic, modern and contemporary New Zealand art. Designed to give a visual overview of the country’s history, the story begins with first contact between the Māori and European explorers in the 1600s and continues to the present day. Enjoy a private guided tour before time at leisure to explore the collections, followed by a visit to a contemporary jewellery gallery dedicated to showcasing the unique local style.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure.
This morning, return to the Aotearoa Art Fair and go behind the scenes on private visits of gallery stockrooms, meet the owners and hear from some of the artists represented, to appreciate the diversity and innovation of the country’s contemporary art scene.
The afternoon is at leisure, followed by a private visit to the collection of a noted patron of the arts in New Zealand. Over canapés and drinks, discover how this collection was assembled before enjoying an evening at leisure.
Today, travel to a world-renowned private sculpture park outside Auckland and discover impressive art installations, including large-scale works of contemporary sculpture by renowned artists.
After lunch, enjoy some free time to explore the site, before returning to Auckland in the mid-afternoon.
Depart Auckland and transfer to McCahon House, for a guided visit of artist Colin McCahon’s family residence throughout the 1950s and the place where some of his most famous work was made. See the original house and the modern Parehuia Artists’ Residency, where three artists are invited to live and work each year.
Continue to Auckland Airport for a lunchtime flight to New Plymouth (flight included in tour price).
Upon arrival in New Plymouth, transfer to the hotel via Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, a tied-arch bridge reminiscent of a cresting wave or a whale skeleton. Stretching across the Waiwhakaiho River, its sculptural form represents the sacred relationship between the local Māori people and the land, sea and wind. Dinner this evening is at a nearby restaurant.
Begin the morning at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre, a contemporary art gallery featuring a significant collection of kinetic sculptures by the twentieth-century New Zealand-born artist, Len Lye. Enjoy a guided tour of the gallery, including its permanent collection of local and international contemporary art, before transferring to Te Kainga Marire Garden. Māori for ‘peaceful encampment’, Te Kainga Marire is one of only a few gardens in New Zealand to have been awarded ‘international significance’ status by the Royal New Zealand Gardens Trust. Enjoy lunch in the grounds of this verdant garden full of native plants that reflect a microcosm of the New Zealand landscape.
Then, travel to the coast to view Len Lye’s iconic Wind Wand sculpture, a 45m-tall pillar of red fibreglass, surmounted by a glowing red sphere, that bends in the wind. Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure to relax or explore the New Plymouth coastal path at your own pace.
Today travel along the rugged west coast of the North Island from New Plymouth to Wellington, between the restless waters of the Cook Strait and the snow-capped volcanic peaks which line the eastern horizon.
Stop briefly in the town of Whanganui and enjoy some free time for lunch. This evening arrive in New Zealand’s vibrant capital Wellington, famous for its thriving cultural scene, and enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Begin the morning with a talk by Julie, before walking to the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for a private tour focused on Māori weaving. Continue to the City Gallery Wellington for a tour of the exhibitions and free time for lunch in the gallery’s café.
Then, walk to the Avid Gallery to see an exhibition of contemporary art and jewellery, before enjoying an exclusive private visit to the home of one of New Zealand’s most prominent collectors of modern art.
Begin the morning with a guided tour of the Dowse Art Museum, which houses an extensive collection of multidisciplinary works by significant New Zealand artists. Then, visit some of Wellington’s most impressive architectural designs on a coach sightseeing tour, including Futuna Chapel and Athfield House.
The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to relax or explore the city at your own pace.
This evening, enjoy a private, after-hours viewing of the McLeavey Gallery followed by a drinks reception.
This morning, visit the private studio of celebrated contemporary jewellers outside Wellington.
In the afternoon, fly from Wellington to Dunedin (flight included in tour price), a city built upon the riches of New Zealand’s gold rush, with a legacy of grand Edwardian and Victorian architecture.
Begin today with a talk by Julie introducing the art of the South Island, before visiting the Dunedin Public Gallery. Founded in 1884, the gallery was the first public art gallery in New Zealand and houses a strong collection of historic and contemporary works, including numerous works by Frances Mary Hodgkins. Hodgkins was a painter of landscapes and still life and is now considered one of New Zealand’s most significant and influential painters.
Walk from the gallery to explore the Edwardian and Victorian period architecture, interlaced with Italianate, Gothic, Georgian and Palladian forms of designs. Gothic church spires, ornate mansions, grand government buildings and picturesque gardens weave through the streets of the inner city.
Continue to the Otago Museum for a guided visit of the collection that captures natural, cultural and scientific stories of Otago, New Zealand and the world.
Enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Depart Dunedin and drive along the Otago coast to the unique and quirky town of Oamaru. Walk the Victorian streetscapes or step into the eccentric world of Steampunk, a movement created in the 1980s that uses arts and fashion to imagine inventions that the people of Victorian times might have created for the modern world.
Arrive in Christchurch in the late afternoon. Devastated by a major earthquake in 2011, the city has embraced urban regeneration, with cutting-edge architecture sitting alongside some of the oldest heritage buildings in New Zealand.
This morning, enjoy a private access visit to The National Gallery. The National showcases the work of a select group of contemporary New Zealand jewellers alongside sculptural ceramics, glass and object-based works.
In the afternoon, visit the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. The gallery not only acts as a catalyst to drive ambitious creativity in Christchurch but also extends an influence beyond the art world. When Christchurch was hit by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the Emergency Operating Centre and hub for the earthquake recovery operated from this gallery.
Walk from the gallery in the company of a Christchurch specialist for a fascinating local creative’s perspective of how Christchurch has become a flourishing city of the arts.
Enjoy a special farewell dinner with Julie and fellow travellers at one of Christchurch’s fine restaurants.
This morning, check out of the hotel and visit the most recognised building in Christchurch, the Transitional Cathedral, more commonly known as the ‘Cardboard Cathedral’. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, the church was the first public building commissioned in the aftermath of the quakes, and stands as a symbol of progress and resilience.
Transfer to Christchurch Airport, where tour arrangements conclude for flights departing from 13:00. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour, private airport transfers and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
16 December 2022
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness levels definitions.
Qantas/Air New Zealand
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian passport holders do not require a visa to visit New Zealand.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally-located 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including wine with meals
- Economy class flights from Auckland to New Plymouth and Wellington to Dunedin (23kg luggage allowance)
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Julie Ewington
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Airport transfer on departure if using included group transfer
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- Airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, drinks, room service etc.
- Airport transfer on arrival or if not using included group transfer on departure
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Auckland – Fable Auckland *****
New Plymouth – Novotel New Plymouth ****+
Wellington – QT Wellington ****+
Dunedin – Scenic Hotel Southern Cross ****
Christchurch – Fable Christchurch *****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.