Arts come alive in Hamilton and Waikato

The Hamilton and Waikato region is home to a vibrant artistic community, evidenced by the number of events, museums and galleries in the area. From sculptors and painters to illustrators and fashion designers, creativity is flourishing in the region providing ample opportunity to enjoy the arts.

MESH Sculptures

MESH sculptures is a public works project that started in Hamilton six years ago. The sculptures, located in key locations around the city, are popular Hamilton attractions for art aficionados.

Mesh Sculptures - Beat Connection - Hamilton

Mesh Sculptures - Beat Connection

So far, three major works have been completed: Beat Connection by Seung Yul Oh at Claudelands Event Centre, Te Waharoa ki te Ao Maarama by Lonnie Hutchinson at Lake Rotoroa (also known as Hamilton Lake, on the corner of Pembroke St and Ruakiwi Rd), and Tongue of the Dog by Michael Parekowhai in front of Waikato museum in the city’s cultural precinct.

The works, exhibited outdoors, are a magnet for locals and tourists alike, with people often spotted taking photos of the impressive installations. 

Waikato Museum

Artspost Gallery, Hamilton

The Waikato Museum is also home to a variety of permanent and touring exhibitions each year.

One of the most popular being the National Contemporary Art Awards, where local and national artists enter never before seen pieces that are designed to reflect the ‘art of now’ – often described as colourful, brave and never shy.

A variety of other top exhibitions include those aimed at kids, a look back at Hamilton’s history, cultural exhibitions and more.

Visitors to Hamilton can also discover local artists’ work at Artspost Gallery, Soul Gallery and Inspirit Gallery.

Tony Sly Pottery

With a pottery studio on the Raglan wharf, and waves lapping at his feet, New Zealand potter Tony Sly feels pretty lucky. And he’s not the only one to be seduced by the town. People from around the country and overseas travel to Raglan for its natural charm as well as its thriving cultural scene.

Tony’s work is currently influenced by the colours of the sea at his doorstep. 

The environment rubs off on you

Tony Sly

And there are plenty of things to do in Raglan for people who appreciate the arts. Aside from Tony’s studio, the town is also home to several art galleries including Kanuka Design Gallery and Matapihi Gallery.

Raglan Arts Weekend, where local artists open their studio doors to visitors, is held over Auckland Anniversary weekend each year (the last weekend in January) when it is, without a doubt, one of the most popular Raglan activities. While a variety of well-known artists also call Raglan home, including Aaron Kereopa, known for his surfboard art, sculpture Richard Page and many more.

Arts Events

The Hamilton Fringe Festival is held early in the year, over a period of about ten days and is one of the most popular things to do in Hamilton for its duration. In 2016, the festival included 41 different free and ticketed events in Hamilton city, attended by thousands of people.

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival

The large community festival has a contemporary experimental feel, offering an avenue for a type of art not often seen elsewhere in Hamilton
From performing arts to exhibitions, the Hamilton Fringe Festival also provides a great platform for artists just starting out.

The Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival runs for two weeks every summer and highlights theatre, music, art, dance, writers, ideas, circus, and street performances against a backdrop of the region’s most visited attraction, Hamilton Gardens. With such a variety at one festival, there is something for everyone.

Art Trails

Arts trails like the Hamilton Art Trail and Raglan Art Trail are another great way to discover the Hamilton and Waikato region’s many creative gems.

Waikato towns also offer some impressive arts attractions. If you’re in Morrinsville, why not visit the Wallace Gallery or take a wander to check out the Herd of Cows sculptures located throughout the town centre. Cambridge boasts the popular Heritage Gallery and Lilypad Gallery, while Te Aroha is home to recycled materials sculptor Adrian Worsley’s studio. And, if you’re passing through Tirau, you can’t miss its famed corrugated iron art buildings.

Herd of Cows, Morrinsville, NZ

Herd of Cows, Morrinsville