Wednesday, 26 September 2018

The Sculptureum - A unique sculpture garden and art gallery, Auckland, New Zealand

If you are looking for a perfect day trip from Auckland you shouldn't go past The Sculptureum at Matakana, around an hour's drive north of the city. If you follow this blog you will know that I love sculpture gardens and sculpture trails because they combine two of my favourite activities - walking and enjoying art.  At The Sculptureum I was in heaven, this is the best combination of both I have ever seen. Ever since the Sculptureum opened early in  2017 I had been itching to visit and having family visiting from the UK recently gave me the perfect opportunity.  What a unique and wonderful place it is.

Successful lawyer and keen art lover, Anthony Grant,  had spent many years collecting art to the point where he had so much he had to store it in warehouses.  Eventually he felt it was time to share his collection with the public so he and his wife, Sandra, spent around 10 years developing these beautiful and unique gardens and galleries. They chose the name Sculptureum, a combination of sculpture and museum, to reflect the idea that his gardens are a repository for museum quality sculpture and art. They intended it to be colourful, whimsical, fun and enriching. It is all of these things.

The three immaculately groomed gardens are diverse and broken  into themes including the classical
garden, a philosophical garden, a whimsical garden, a palm garden and the famous pink snail garden. There are live birds in aviaries, turtles in eye level tanks and rabbits which are housed in a cleverly designed, escape proof run called Rabbiton. The six galleries display glass art, abstract art, and art made from recycled materials. Thrillingly there are pieces by Picasso, Cezanne and Rodin along side inexpensive but quirky works included just for fun. The centrepiece of one gallery is the astonishingly beautiful large glass chandelier by artist Dale Chihuly

And here I am just hanging out with Mark Twain

Left: Some quotes in the philosophical garden

The snail garden is very popular with visitors.  Note the meerkats up a tree in the background and the bright red pig to the side.  There is something to see everywhere you look.
Dale Chihuly's chandelier

Wind tree from recycled material

This goat is made from hundreds of forks

  Since we had a four year old in tow we intended to spend only a couple of hours at The Sculptureum but ended up spending around three and a half.  The four year old loved it.  There were plenty of magical, whimsical pieces to keep her happy and, of course the rabbits. 

There is also an excellent quality restaurant on site called Rothko where you can have meals or simply light refreshments.  

My photos really don't do these gardens and galleries justice. I was so busy and happy looking I forgot to take photos.  

The Sculptureum is a world class attraction and an absolute must if you are visiting Auckland for a few days.  I can't wait to go back and now have it firmly on my list of things to do with overseas visitors.

The Sculptureum is at 40 Omaha Flats Rd, Matakana, North of Auckland
Open: Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday 
Buy tickets on line @

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Byodo-In Temple, Oahu, Hawaii

Nestled at the foot of the magnificent, soaring mountain range of Ko'olau, near Kane'ohe Bay, lies the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Within the park is the tranquil and beautiful Byodo-In Temple.   It is one of my favourite places in Hawaii.
The magnificent Byodo-In Temple under the misty mountains of  Ko'olau
The temple is a half size replica of the original, World Heritage listed, 900 year old Byodo-In temple in Kyoto, Japan and is a fine  example of the symmetry of Heian architecture. It was built and dedicated in 1968 to celebrate the centenary of the arrival of the Japanese in Hawaii. The Japanese originally arrived  to work the sugar cane and pineapple plantations and their early years were difficult, marred by poverty, hardship, and prejudice. The temple is an acknowledgement of those early days, of their hard work and of the gifts they brought to the culture of Hawaii.

The temple is a non-denominational Buddhist temple, it does not have  a community of monks or a local congregation, and is open to everyone of all faiths from all over the world for prayer and meditation. Thousands of people visit it every year.
My Grandson ringing the peace bell. I hope he has the peace and good fortune promised
Built from concrete the 11,000sq ft (1000 sq metre) temple houses an 18 toot tall  (5.5metres) statue of Buddha covered in gold and lacquer while the lush, serene gardens surrounding the temple contain large koi ponds, a three ton peace bell and a small meditation pagoda.

I highly recommend a visit to Byodo-In to enjoy its peace and tranquility, to take a step back from the fast pace of life, to listen to the bird song and the gently flowing stream, to admire the carp and to mediate for a while. It is also said that ringing the huge bell will bring you peace and good fortune, now that has to be worth a visit, doesn't it?

Above: carp ponds      Right: the meditation pagoda

Byodo-In 47-200 Kahekii Highway, Kane'ohe
Open daily 9am to 5pm                                     
 Admission : $3 per adult $1 per child