Sunday 27 November 2022

Gibbs Sculpture Farm

And the final blog from out Northland travels. Click on the photos to enlarge. 

You'll recall I was offered a free ticket to an open day at Gibbs Sculpture Farm by our neighbours at the Muriwai Holiday Park. They'd bought tickets for two days just in case the weather wasn't great on the first day. 

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour
They headed off on a lovely sunny day, the next day- my day- wasn't so good; overcast, grey & threatening rain but I hardly noticed. I was out the door early & one of first in the car queue through into a top paddock carpark (no surprises there). 

Rakaia 1996/1997. Peter Nicholls
Gibbs Farm is an expansive open-air sculpture park on the edge of the Kaipara Harbour, north of Auckland. It has the greatest collection of large-scale outdoor sculptures in the country with works by some of the world's most renowned artists. The sculpture park took 24 years to create & employs over 28 people.

‘Horizons’ (1994), Neil Dawson
I once heard Neil Dawson, the artist of  Horizons talking about his work. He said it like a curved piece of corrugated iron, from an old farm tank, that has sprung loose and blown in the wind to settle on the hilltop. And it sure looked like that. Added to the surreal scene, yaks & rare breeds of horned sheep grazed on the slopes below the sculpture.  Dawson is also famous for The Chalice in Cathedral Square, Christchurch.

‘Te Tuhirangi Contour’ (1999-2001), Richard Serra

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour
The park is only open to the public a few days each year and the owner Alan Gibbs (entrepreneur, businessman & art collector) generously allows local charities to run the open days & fundraise selling tickets.

Red Cloud Confrontation in Landscape 1996. Leon van den Eijkel

Pyramid (Keystone NZ) 1997. Sol
It was great to get there early to take photos before there were too many people swarming in, around & over some of the more popular sculptures. Although a few hundred people soon disappear in the landscape.

Tickets Please- Otis the Ostrich 2019 (I named him)
By far the most popular exhibit, going by the strung out rows of tiny ant like people making a beeline for it, was 'Dismemberment', looking like a gigantic red megaphone high up on a hill.

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.
The farm covers over 400 hectares of rolling hills & a good level of fitness and sturdy footwear are required if you want to get up close & personal with the sculptures.

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009), Anish Kapoor.
I wonder how many people noticed the art work 'Green & White Fence (1999-2001), Daniel Buren', it contains fence posts painted, well, green & white, & placed at 4 metre intervals and is 3.2km long. I found it pretty hard capturing the whole sculpture but you can see it in the two photos below! 😁

At the top of the hill- Sea/Sky Kaipara (1994) Graham Bennett

Sculptures are located high on hilltops, down on slopes, tucked into gullies and in paddocks beside the harbour. 

A Fold in the Field (2013) Maya Lin (yes, it's those mounds in the paddock)
There is no public entry to this part of the farm but it looks like there's a fair bit going on down there. I wonder if that is where the private full-scale wild west farm complete with saloon is located. Although it looks more like a island resort to me. Someone will know.

And there's that fence again.

It is a large farm and it takes at least four hours to follow the sculpture trail.

‘88.5° ARC x 8’ (2012), Bernar Venet
There are even a few sculptures located out on the Kaipara harbour mudflats that can be viewed from a few locations along the walk- I didn't manage to see any. 

Gibbs Farm, Kaipara Harbour

‘Te Tuhirangi Contour’ (1999-2001), Richard Serra.
The farm also includes quite a surprising number of exotic animals such as zebra, bison, buffalo, yaks, giraffe & an assortment of rare & unusual breeds of cattle, sheep & goats.

Buffalo- Mumma & her son
One of us is not like the other- Jeff the Giraffe gets a lick from the Gibbs Farm dominant real life male giraffe (salt forms on the sculpture from the salt laden Kaipara Harbour air). There are 3 male giraffes, they are big animals and very tall, it's just that Jeff is much taller!

Giraffe (2011-2012), Jeff Thomson
The giraffe are the only remaining Rothschild giraffe in New Zealand and Gibbs Farm is a registered zoo with suitably qualified staff taking care of all the animals.

I'm sure the animals hate open days- they are contained in smaller paddocks & yards
The ponds have fish in them and various types of waterfowl congregating lakeside. 

Easy K (2005) Kenneth Snelson & Red Square (1994), Richard Thompson
I had a fantastic time exploring the farm, visiting most of the sculptures and saying hello to some of the more friendly animals...
Umbrella Ostrich 2019
Towards the end I wanted to reverse my route & revisit some of the sculptures again, see them in a different light, capture them at a different angle but sadly time was up and groups of tired, bedraggled people dragging their feet (it had rained on & off), slowly made their way back up the hill to the top carpark. Those that were in the bottom carpark had already climbed to the top in the morning. 

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.
If you ever get the chance I'd highly recommend a visit to Gibbs Farm. The farm & artworks might be privately owned by a very wealthy businessman but he very generously shares this magnificent landscape with visitors through the open days. You won't be disappointed. 

And a huge thankyou to the lovely visiting Dutch couple who gave me one of their tickets, it was very much appreciated & enjoyed. 

‘Dismemberment, Site 1’ (2009). Anish Kapoor.

‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (2017), Gerry Judah.

Floating Island of Immortals (2006), Zhan Wang

What do you think? Did I managed to capture 3.2km of THAT fence?

‘88.5° ARC x 8’ (2012), Bernar Venet


  1. Thanks Shellie. What an intriguing park. I will have to visit it myself to find out about the inspirations and stories behind the sculptures. I have friends who have visited and taken photos with their phones but, as they said, their pictures were too distant to give much idea of the sculptures. I will be showing them your blog when I next see them.

  2. What an amazing place, thanks so much for sharing your wonderful photos, once again.


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