July 9, 2013

Kaipara Coast Sculpture Garden

Back in June we spent one Saturday morning exploring the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens.  Located 45 minutes north of Auckland in the Kaipara Coast Plant Centre, the sculpture gardens showcase over 50 works of art by local and national artists, all of which are for sale, through out a beautiful 1km long garden and nature trail.

Everything was absolutely magical from the minute we were shown to the start of the trail.  It was like being shown to the start of a secret garden.

The sculpture trail is broken in to several different types of gardens including a native garden/forest, vegetable garden, orchard, granny's cottage garden, forest and water gardens.  Each of the gardens has been beautifully landscaped in to gorgeous usable spaces which are fascinating for both adults and children's alike.

The sculptures are dotted in and amongst the various gardens and there are lots of little paths running off the main trail with sculptures hidden at the end of them.

This was one little clearing up a path near the beginning of the trail with pottery tiles made by local primary school children.

Some of the tiles had fallen down in the wet weather we've had so Maddy helped to pick them up.

There are some lovely simple activities and surprises for children all around the trail such as piles of logs to turn over for insect spotting.  Maddy absolutely loved this secret door she found.  She was hoping Tinkerbell was going to be inside :)

One of Maddy's favourite sculptures were these coloured pencils...

She was a little hesitant about the giant cat...

But she thought the giant spider on the gate was pretty neat.

Some of the sculptures were a bit creepy - this one reminded me of the movie Return to Oz for some reason.  I think it reminded me of the Queen that could change her head.  Eek!

And there were some that I really didn't understand... this one cost over $4000!  But that's art I suppose...

These giant waterlilies were neat to find around one bend in the path and were motion sensored to spray water up in the air when you walked past them.

Maddy did end up finding a fairy (and giving her a hug).

My favourite sculpture was this giant fantail mosaic made from pebbles.  It was immaculately made and just beautiful.  But at $4000 it wasn't coming home with us :(

The orchard and granny's cottage garden were my favourite gardens. Maddy helped herself to the abundant mandarins in the orchard.

The rest of the orchard was pretty bear but I absolutely loved the wee wooden branch name tags that hung to each tree.

About three quarters of the way around there was a small track with a sign leading to an Adventure Area.  About a minute down the track you came to an adventure playground that the owners had built for their own children years ago.

There were drums and bell chimes, giant pick up sticks, giant Jenga, monkey bars, trees to climb, balance beams, a sand pit with ride on diggers and bivouacs to shelter in.  It was absolutely gorgeous.

It probably took an hour and a half to get around the whole sculpture trail.  It was a long way for little legs to walk (the trails are mountain buggy friendly but not suitable for wheelchairs) but there was just so much to see and do.  There was something around every single bend to keep her interested and occupied.  We had had heavy rain in the days prior to is visiting but the trail was dry and clean and well sheltered from the wind in most parts too.

This little button snuggled up in the front pack and was awake for over three hours.  She never made a peep.  She seemed to love it too.

At the end of the trail you end up back at the plant nursery, cafe and another play area with a giant blackboard.

All of the sculptures change once a year in October or November so we're planning on a repeat visit to see all the gardens in full bloom and to see the new art.  They also hold a giant Easter egg hunt every year.

Admission for adults is $10, children 5-13 are $5, under 5's are free or you can buy a family pass for $25.00.  They also allow tour buses through and you are welcome to picnic anywhere you like around the trail.  It would make a magical place for a children's birthday party.  It's such a fantastic place to visit and I can't recommend it highly enough.

The following day we visited two places that I had read about and been wanting to try for a while -  Giapo and Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar in Auckland City.  Unfortunately I found both were a little disappointing.

Giapo is a research kitchen for ice cream and gilato which encourages creative combinations that you've never dreamt of.  It produces fresh unique gourmet flavours which are updated daily on their website.  They are very happy for you to sample the flavours before purchasing but the banana and bacon ice cream or beetroot gilato didn't really do anything for me.  I think my tastes run a little simpler.  We ended up with "Kiss Kiss" which was Hazelnut Chocolate and Salted Caramel which were nice but very rich.

From Giapo we popped around the corner to Moustache Milk and Cookie Bar.  I was a little disappointed as it was a very little non-descript shop with only a few of glass jars of cookies on the counter and your standard barrista.  I was expecting a slightly 1950's looking establishment with lots of mini glass milk bottles with stripey straws and the beautiful smell of baking wafting down the street.  In fairness we did visit on a dreary rainy Sunday so perhaps they weren't operating at 100%.  I saw these delicious looking creations on the Moustahce Facebook page before heading over and I guess I was expecting to see something similar available in store.

There were some people at the back of the store making fresh cookies and they seemed to be really happy which was nice to see (who wouldn't be making cookies for a job).  We bought Maddy a marshmallow oreo cookie to take home as there wasn't really anywhere for us to sit.  I sampled a little of Maddy's cookie when we got home and it really was delish.  I really want to like Moustache and I've read such great reviews about it so I'm planning a midweek revisit.  Maddy and I are going to watch Hairy Maclary at the Aotea Centre in the school holidays so we might need to pop round for a treat afterwards :)

Mr Little Housewife and I also had a very rare night out the other weekend - in fact it was the first night out we've had since Maisie was born six months ago.  We were given a movie voucher last year which was about to expire so my parents came to mind the girls.  We were planning on having dinner somewhere first but the movie times were all a bit awkward so we decided to try Gold Class and have dinner while we watched the movie.

Gold Class is nothing new.  Its probably been around for the last 6 years or longer but we've never been before.  What a way to watch a movie!  It's like flying first class instead of economy.  There are no more than 40 people in the cinema with you and each person has their own lay-z-boy style chair to recline and relax back in to.  Drinks are served and dinner orders taken while you watch the previews and then you just press the bell should you need anything else during the film.  Bliss!  It is definitely not cheap - $35 per person just for your ticket and then food and beverages on top of that.  We were lucky we had that movie voucher.  The cinema was full though so there are obviously lots of people who don't mind spending over $100 to watch a movie.  That said, it really was a great way to watch a movie and would jump at the chance to do it again.

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