The Waiheke artistic way of life

The island of Waiheke is situated close to New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland.

Despite being just a 35-minute ferry ride from cosmopolitan Auckland, the island with white sand beaches and wide blue ocean vistas of the Hauraki Gulf is a favourite summer holiday spot for Kiwis. Its secluded shores are dotted with baches or summer cottages.

The island is home to about 8000 permanent residents including more than 70 working artists, writers and craftspeople whose artistic influence colours local cultural life.

In summer, the island’s population swells to over 30,000 as visitors come to enjoy sub-tropical temperatures, beaches, native bush and birdlife, farmland, vineyards, olive groves, wineries, cafés and restaurants.

Known as ‘the island of wine’, Waiheke is a hot spot for New Zealand’s acclaimed wine and olive industries.    

The sultry Mediterranean-style climate offers optimum conditions for the cultivation of grapes and olives, and Waiheke wines regularly earn international acclaim.

Many vineyards now also provide classy accommodation and fine dining restaurants.

Every second year the island hosts the Headland Sculpture on the Gulf Exhibition during which 40 or so artists are selected to show their work along the spectacular coastal walkway between Matiatia and Church Bay.

The coastal exhibition walkway – with its dramatic backdrop of sea, sky and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf – is considered one of the most spectacular settings for contemporary sculpture.

Visitors can wander freely amongst the large scale artworks, and each sculpture is strategically placed to surprise viewers and encourage interaction.

All works are chosen for their appropriateness to the site and connection with the landscape, and include interactive and kinetic works, soundscapes and installations.

It has now become a popular summer event for locals and tourists, attracting around 26,000 visitors and involving as many as 150 local volunteers.

Island day-trippers include the exhibition in their Waiheke Island experience as well as enjoying seaside cafés, beaches, vineyard restaurants and cellar doors, and exploring galleries and the art community.

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