Central Otago Arts Trail
Rural Central Otago is deceptively provincial. Its quaint back roads, historic gold mining towns, remote sprawling highways and rustic woolsheds hide a quiet artistic revolution that is fast becoming an open secret and a burgeoning arts tourism scene, championed by the Central Otago District Arts Trust. The artists of Central Otago are masters of their crafts and together comprise the Central Otago Arts Trail; a directory of virtuoso creatives who welcome visitors to come and experience their workspace, methods and art.
Meetings, workshops, seminars, auctions and festivals are advertised on the Central Otago Arts Trail calendar, generating a lively and interactive community scene for art admirers and artists alike. The range of disciplines on the art trail is vast with artisans and artists working across a number of traditional and cutting edge mediums. Bead makers, potters, landscape painters, multimedia artists, jewellers and carvers all form an arts scene as diverse as one would expect from a cosmopolitan city.
Given the big distances between many of the artists and spaces, we recommend you either hire a car, cycle (be prepared to cover a lot of kilometres) or check out Blue Bubble Taxis for their sightseeing options. The Central Otago Arts Trail is a unique and insightful day trip from Queenstown and could be combined with cycling the Central Otago Rail Trail or visiting world-class wineries in stunning settings.
There are over a hundred artists and art spaces on the Central Otago Arts Trail. We have selected just a few of the best for you. Many of the artists appreciate a phone call beforehand to let them know you are coming out and some are also available to open on request outside of specified opening hours.
Stephanie Buddle - "Sculptural jewellery" is a term most people won’t have heard before, so if you’re curious a visit to Stephanie’s gallery is a must. Using highly polished resins, Stephanie designs vibrant, colourful beautifully structured pieces of jewellery, to be both admired and worn. Open Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun: 11.00am - 4.00pm. Address: 272 Burn Cottage Road, Cromwell, +64 3 445 3317.
Hullaballoo Art Space - A contemporary art space in the historic precinct of Old Cromwell Town. A diverse range of work is exhibited here including sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, photography and multimedia. Open daily: 10.00am – 4.00pm. Address: Melmore Terrace, Old Cromwell Historic Precinct, Cromwell, +64 (0)27 6007106.
Les Riddell - Les makes handmade jewellery from gold and other materials in his old stone workshop. Les works with customers to design and create something bespoke and personal. Open Tues - Sun: 10.00am - 4.00pm. 71 Melmore Tce., Murrell's Shed, Old Cromwell Town, Cromwell, +64 3 445 3094.
View regional overview on Cromwell.
Alan Waters Art Gallery - Alan takes the unorthodox but striking step of painting in watercolours with bold and vibrant colours. His subject matter is often irreverent, regularly surreal and sometimes traditional, but always represented with his unique idiosyncratic stamp. Open daily: 1.00pm - 5.00pm. Address: Rapid 81, Pigeon Rock Road (off) Cornish Point Road , Bannockburn, +64 3 445 4723. View Video & More Info.
Ceres Wines & Art Gallery - Odelle Morshuis - Venturing into the realm of abstract art and multimedia, Odelle is something of a master of many disciplines. One of her more avant-garde pieces is a video of a piano concert being played for a flock of sheep. Open Mon - Fri: 9.30am - 4.30pm. Address: Ceres Wines and Art Gallery, 128 Cairnmuir Rd, RD 2 Cromwell, +64 3 445 4467.
View regional overview on Bannockburn.
Kathi McLean - The Packing Shed Gallery & Café houses exhibitions by Kathi along with her pottery studio where the magic happens. Visitors can watch Kathi firing her pottery in raku and electric kilns. The café is also a unique spot to enjoy coffee and browse the gold-mining relics that feature in the gardens.Open daily in Summer: 10.00am – 4.00pm. Open weekends only off-season: 10.00am - 4.00pm, Address: 68 Boulton Rd, Earnscleugh, Alexandra, +64 3 4492757.
Denis Litchfield - This studio showcases the work and methods of local gem cutter, Denis, who mines stones in Australia and then brings them home to Central Otago to cut. He specialises in stunning sapphires. Open daily when the sign is out: 10.00am - 4.00pm. 22 Bringans St, Alexandra, + 64 3 448 7337.
View regional overview on Alexandra.
Andrew Barr - Andrew creates beautiful sculptures made from Oamaru stone. The sculptures reference Central Otago nature and the contrasts of shapes and form within it. Sculptures are on display in a garden setting for visitors to browse. Open daily except for Thursdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm, The Oamaru Stone Gallery, 5169 State Highway 8, Ettrick, Central Otago, +64 3 446 6535.
Speargrass Inn - A cultural hub and lively place for music, food and drink, Speargrass Inn exhibits sculptures in its gardens and artwork by local artists in its café. Live music is performed every Sunday throughout summer in the courtyard.Open Mon & Thurs: 9.00am - 4.00pm. Open Fri, Sat & Sun: 9.00am - late. Closed June, July & August, Address: 1300 Fruitlands Roxburgh Road, State Highway 8, Alexandra, +64 3 449 2192.
Luke Anthony - Luke uses salvaged native timbers to carve life-sized sculptures of native New Zealand birds. Luke only uses wood which has already fallen and strives not to contribute to deforestation or destruction of life of any kind in order to make his art. Open by appointment only: Monday - Friday. Address: 27 Pery Street, Ranfurly, +64 3 552 8131 .