Sculptureum – an Auckland day trip to impress

Sculptureum – an Auckland day trip that will impress you on an ‘international scale’.

That’s a statement you could easily make about scenery in NZ, but perhaps not so before about a sculpture park.

Set in the beautiful countryside of Matakana, the sculpture park Sculptureum is about an hours drive north from Auckland city. Matakana itself is a destination for Aucklanders, especially on the weekends when the local market hums. Plus, it’s just ‘up the road’ for those lucky enough to have beach homes at nearby Omaha.


The gardens of Sculptureum

As you enter the grounds of Sculptureum a sense of peace envelopes you. On one side you have vines stretching up a hill, on another a beautiful high hedge hides the road, and then you have the grounds of Sculptureum themselves. Paths lead off waiting to be explored, and in the centre of the grounds, a restaurant sits, open to everything, inviting you in. You have arrived – breathe in the serenity.

Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip

So what exactly is Sculptureum? It’s a destination! It’s sculpture gardens and art galleries, combined with a two beautiful eateries, all set in its own little 10 hectare world.

Entry is $39 per adult (there are deals for group). You begin your exploring by the ticket booth, entering the first of three gardens – the Garden of Creative Diversity. You can immediately see that alongside inspiring, it’s important to the owners to also educate, and make you think. This includes a walkway lined with inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs.

Follow the path to more art adventures at Sculptureum

Walking through the gardens is easy. There are 1.5kms of flat, wide paths to follow, with surprises at every turn.

Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
The gardens begin very classically.
Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
You are encouraged ‘off the beaten path’

Cool sculptures in the outdoor garden
There are sculptures at every turn, all crafted from different natural materials.

Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
Around another corner …

Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
Incredible sculptures crafted from driftwood are throughout the gardens.


The art galleries at Sculptureum – an Auckland day trip

Once you’ve finished outside, you head inside to go through the 5 art galleries. These hold an eclectic mix of art from around the world. ‘Serious’ art by Picasso sits alongside ‘fun’ pieces. Neither I nor hubby are ‘museum’ or ‘art’ people, yet we were entranced by all we saw. For us, it was some of the ‘everyday’ items that had been transformed into ‘art’ that were the most fascinating. I got a sense that although obviously a serious collector, that the curator isn’t dictated to by what ‘should’ be.

I won’t spoil the surprises ahead of you with photos.

Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
Inside the art galleries

After the art galleries you emerge outside to The Palm Garden, this one full of art from around the world. If it’s designed to delight, inspire and educate, then it’s working!

More gardens to delight

Quirky art in the gardens at Sculptureum
Glass art features heavily in this garden
Sculptureum - an Auckland day trip to impress
The infamous pink snails at Sculptureum
The infamous pink snails

The Palm Garden leads on to the Pink Snail Garden. This is a whimsical garden, full of oversized plastic animal sculptures. In amongst the art however, are aviaries with the most colourful finches, parrots and parakeets, and turtles in a tank! Why? Because you can.

As you leave this garden, you head back inside and exit through the last art gallery, which contains a stunning glass installment from the infamous glass artist, Dale Chilhuly. If you’ve ever been to the Chihuly Gardens in Seattle, you will recognise the piece instantly, it is classic Chihuly.

Worked up an appetite?

By now you’ll probably have worked up an appetite, and feel deserving of a good meal. Sadly on the day we visited the restaurants were closed as they prepared for a wedding, so we didn’t get to experience their food offerings. But I have it on good authority that the food at Rothko restaurant is delicious, and dining here would continue the ‘we’re impressing you’ theme. For those wanting something a little more relaxed, there’s also Rothko Jnr, where from two jazzed up containers they serve burgers, fried chicken and Hallertau beer (one of hubby’s favourites). The containers sit in the gardens, where there are picnic tables set under the palm trees. If this had been open, I imagine our day would have been a lot longer!

Check before you go!

This does raise a good point – Sculptureum and Rothko do close for private events, so always check their website before planning a visit. Generally the gardens and gallery are open 10-5, but are closed Tuesday and Wednesdays.

If the restaurants are closed when you visit, don’t despair. Matakana Village is a quick 5 minute drive away, and has plenty of options for you. I highly recommend Matakana Market Kitchen – it sits under the movie theatre, opening out onto a terrace that overlooks the ‘river’. Pop in there for a coffee and something sweet, a full meal, or just a glass of wine. From here you can also explore some gorgeous artisan shopping, to complete your day.

I do hope this has inspired your own trip to Sculptureum. Share back here when you’ve visited. Don’t forget to pin this now to refer back to.




And if you like to visit gardens, another great day trip from Auckland that I highly recommend is the Hamilton Gardens.

Back in Auckland now, have you discovered all there is to do in this beautiful city? This three day guide may offer you some more ideas.

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  1. Stunning photos Megan! I’ve been hoping to visit here for some time; with your writing and images now inspiring me even more, to go while we’re enjoying such beautiful weather.

    1. Thanks Lisa. It’s definitely a bonus to visit on a beautiful day, so you can sit under the trees and make the most of the weather. I look forward to hearing what you think of it. 🙂

    1. So do I! But it does mean it’ll just have to go on the list for when you do come back. Hopefully while I’m here next time!!! 🙂

  2. What a great sneak peak into the gardens! You’re photos made me feel like I was there experiencing it all. I felt like I was strolling passed the giant pink snails, and green glass lizard, all while soaking up the sun. I’m a garden-addict, so any time I can travel and explore the outdoors I’m there. New Zealand has been on my list for a while, so I will have to add this activity to it!

    1. I hope you do get to make it downunder – we’d love to show you for yourself just how beautiful it is. As a garden addict, check out my post on the Hamilton Gardens, I think it’ll be another spot to add to your list when you come. 🙂

  3. Looks so beautiful and peaceful! I absolutely loved traveling around New Zealand’s north island but sadly didn’t make it to Auckland. Hoping to visit one of these days! I’ll have to add this place to my list of sights to see when I’m there. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great to hear you’ve seen some of NZ Ashley, I do hope you make it back as there’s lots to see and do here.

  4. How cute! I had no idea these gardens existed. This is the best kind of relaxing travel I need more of!

  5. I knew Auckland was green, but I should’ve assumed there would be gardens too! It is nice seeing this side of the greenery, and I love the sculptures!

  6. I’m from Auckland and I’ve never been to the Sculptureum! My mum and aunty have been there before and loved it! So glad you had an amazing time and were truly impressed!

  7. These all look like beautiful places to visit. My daughter and I always enjoy walking through gardens and exploring, so these would be perfect for us. I love the pink snails! I could use a peaceful getaway right now!

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