Visit the Garden Fete in Blenheim, part of the Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough festival. © MarlboroughNZ

What's on this spring


Things start to heat up on the events calendar from this season – from glorious garden festivals to art exhibitions featuring local and international talents. And don’t miss the return of Wairarapa’s most famous aerobatic event in November.

Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough

Celebrate spring in Marlborough at the 30th anniversary of the Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough festival. Held in Blenheim from 8-12 November, the festival showcases the best of the region’s fertile growing territories in all their floral abundance. 

Dreamt up by gardeners for gardeners, the festival includes a range of full and half-day tours of the region’s most stunning gardens, hands-on workshops and, of course, a glamorous garden party featuring Marlborough’s famous wines. 

Beautiful gardens come with the territory at Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough.

Beautiful gardens come with the territory at Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough.

From compact gardens to sprawling country estates, Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough festival covers all of the botanical bases, and the green-fingered can expand their horticultural knowledge at a range of workshops with expert gardeners. 

A 2023 festival highlight includes UK duo Bridget Elworthy and Henrietta Courtauld, aka The Land Gardeners, designers of wild and joyful gardens that are also productive and beautiful. The pair will provide the keynote talk on Friday evening as well as a soil health workshop and take a one-off, full-day garden tour and masterclass.

The festival wraps up with the STIHL Shop Garden Fete on 12 November at Churchill Glade in Blenheim’s Pollard Park. The Garden Fete is one of the region’s largest free community events where you can meander amongst artisan vendors and garden product stalls to stock up on supplies for your own home and garden. Grab a bite from Eat Street, featuring a wide range of food stalls, and soak up the festival atmosphere and local music within the lovely garden setting.

Rapaura Springs Garden Marlborough is on from 8-12 November 2023. For more information about gardens to visit, workshops or to purchase event tickets, visit 

Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy at Auckland Art Gallery

A piece of wearable art worn by superstar Rihanna at the 2015 Met Gala in New York is coming to Auckland this summer.

The exclusive exhibition Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培:时装之幻梦 opens at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on December 9 and will showcase more than 60 unique garments created by globally-renowned Chinese designer Guo Pei, including the famous Yellow Queen gown worn by mega-star Rihanna.  

Rihanna wears the Yellow Queen dress created by Guo Pei.

Rihanna wears the Yellow Queen gown created by Guo Pei. Photo by JamieMcCarthy/Film Magic.

Drawing on influences from around the world and using extraordinary fabrics and bejewelled embroidery, Guo Pei’s striking garments have adorned the political elite, royalty and celebrities.

From billowing dresses decorated with intricate patterns to bodysuits evoking mythical creatures, Guo Pei’s creations demonstrate two decades of artistic output by a designer who takes inspiration from Imperial China, European art and the botanical world.  

Guo Pei: Fashion, Art, Fantasy 郭培:时装之幻梦 is organised by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with support from the Asian Couture Federation. See for more and to purchase tickets.

Wharenui Harikoa

A beautifully bold and poignant art installation is making its inaugural journey across the country, first stop: Kirikiriroa Hamilton. The crocheted meeting house, Wharenui Harikoa, has been lovingly handwoven by artists lead by husband and wife duo Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole. 

Funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has been secured to display Wharenui Harikoa in different sites across the country, starting with Hamilton’s Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, opening December 1.

Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole

Lissy and Rudi Robinson-Cole. Photo by Hohua.

Constructed using thousands of balls of wool which, unravelled, would roughly cover the distance from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to Taupō, the wharenui measures 9.5m long, 6m high and 5.5m wide. Its woven designs are based around the stories and values of Māori astronomy. It also emits a resounding vibration of love.

“That, in part, is because of its neon hues. But it’s also because of the amount of aroha that has gone into every single loop in the whare, from everyone who’s participated and helped put it together,” Lissy says.

Lissy says her work resonates with various people from all walks of life, namely through igniting memories.

“As soon as people see the mahi, they can see it’s soft, inviting, and warm. They are taken to a safe and beautiful memory within themselves and all barriers are dropped,” she says. “People who may be nervous about a wharenui or nervous about Maori spaces are not, when they see Wharenui Harikoa. There is an embracing feeling about it.”

The pair aspires to take Wharenui Harikoa into schools and prisons, and also work alongside other indigenous groups. They are developing an app to allow people to experience the wharenui digitally via their phone. 

“There are many different intentions to Wharenui Harikoa but it is always about healing, love and dreaming,” Rudi says.

Wharenui Harikoa will be on display in different locations across the country, the first stop being Hamilton’s Waikato Museum from December 1. 

Wings over Wairarapa

Wings over Wairarapa really does live up to its acronym. With stellar aircraft displays set against stunning scenery, you can’t help but say WOW!

The veteran festival is finally back for 2023, having been postponed because of Cyclone Gabrielle earlier this year. Wings over Wairarapa will now run from 24-26 November at the Hood Aerodrome in Masterton with an extravaganza of aircraft set against the bucolic backdrop of the Wairarapa region.  

Catch vintage aircraft in action at Wings Over Wairarapa.

Catch vintage aircraft in action at Wings Over Wairarapa. Photo by Sean Singleton.

Running for more than 20 years, Wings over Wairarapa is a favourite in the event calendar, drawing visitors from around Aotearoa and appealing to aircraft aficionados as much as curious families.

Aircraft displays include vintage and military aircraft, jets, helicopters and jaw-dropping aerobatic antics. The festival features one of largest flying collections of WWI aircraft in the world and you can even book a joyride – or joyflight – in a P51 Mustang or an Avro Anson.

Back on the ground, the 2023 festival includes an all-new Take Flight Programme designed for kids. An interactive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education programme, activities will naturally focus on aviation and aerospace, with demonstrations featuring Nanogirl Labs, Waikato University faculty of engineering and House of Science Wairarapa, who will create hands-on science experiments for the tiniest tamariki aged up to three years-old.

For more information about Wings Over Wairarapa and to buy tickets, visit

 Always Song in the Water, Auckland Maritime Museum

An art exhibition focusing on concerns for the ocean is now on at the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa on Auckland’s waterfront. 

Featuring the work of more than 40 artists, Always Song in the Water builds on the 2011 exhibition hosted at the museum, Kermadec – Nine Artists in the South Pacific, which toured nationally and internationally.  

The new exhibition features many acclaimed artists who were involved in the 2011 exhibition including Robin White, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, John Pule, John Reynolds and Elizabeth Thomson. It is very timely as the world navigates climate change and ocean health.

Artworks by John Pule feature in the Always Song in the Water exhibition.

Artworks by John Pule feature in the Always Song in the Water exhibition at Auckland Maritime Museum.

Darryl Pike, New Zealand Maritime Museum’s Head of Collections, says: “Always Song in the Water captures the essence of Aotearoa’s connection to the wider Pacific region, reflecting themes of oceans, voyages and conservation through a diverse range of mediums, including paintings, photography, jewellery, poetry and dance.”

At the core of the exhibition – and its starting point – is Gregory O'Brien's 2019 book, also titled Always Song in the Water. The writer says he is immensely proud of his updated book: 

“The new edition, like the exhibition, is a kind of love poem to Moana Oceania.” 

Always Song in the Water is on until February 28, 2024. Entry is free with museum entry and museum entry is free for Auckland residents. See for more.


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