© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Gore-geous Art in the Eastern Southland Gallery

© NZPocketGuide.com

164 Days on the Road

Gore: we’ve learned what a rebellious whisky-making city you were at the Hokonui Moonshine Museum yesterday, as well as finding out that you are the “Capital in New Zealand” for trout fishing and country music. Then on top of that, you have a damn fine art-deco cinema and theatre. What more could you offer? Well, there’s a free activity we’re willing to check out at the Eastern Southland Gallery!

Before we begin, Dolamore Park…

But before all that, let’s take a moment to talk about how awesome the campground is that we’re currently staying in. Dolamore Park, about 15 minutes drive out of Gore, is on the edge of the Croydon Bush Scenic Reserve. As the largest part of surviving forest in the Hokonui Hills, we can always hear the sound of birds while parked up at the dead-as cheap power sites of this council-run campground. What’s more, Dolamore Park is the start of many walking and hiking tracks, so we are going to check out one this morning.

Dolamore Park Loop Walk

Crossing the grassy playing field of Dolamore Park, and ziplining our way through the badass children’s playground, we reach the entrance to the Dolamore Park Loop Walk, one of many walks we can start here. Crossing a wooden bridge over the stream that we can also hear from our campervan, we head into the Croydon Bush.

A veil of moss

It’s like walking into a veil of moss. Trees lean over the walking track with long lines of moss hanging from them. This moss absorbs the moisture from rainwater, allowing all sorts of other plants to grow on the trees themselves! The biodiversity on just one tree is insane! We can even name a couple of the plants on the tree thanks to the guided walk we did back on the Routeburn Track. Honestly, New Zealand is turning us into right plant nerds.

On the other end of the scale, there are trees that are so bare that it appears they are shedding their skin. Light brown trunks have flaky layers of bark hanging off them about to fall onto the forest floor.

Next stop, the Eastern Southland Gallery!

The 45-minute walk takes us on a loop around this spectacular forest, bringing us back to the playground. From here, it’s to the campervan for a quick lunch and a drive into Gore for the Eastern Southland Gallery!

The free-entry gallery on Hokonui Drive is set in a grand heritage building proudly displaying the date 1909 at its entrance. That’s not the only thing to welcome us into the building…

Spied on by Medusa

As we enter the first set of doors, Robin is just about to pass through the second, when Laura calls: “Look up!” There is a huge Medusa’s head looking down at us. Her snake hair covers the whole ceiling and her expression is more than a little creepy!

The Mystical Dolamore Park Loop Walk

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A Jigsaw Life

The first couple of rooms we go in are lined with simple abstract art with popping colours and deep meanings, as indicated by the name of each painting. They seem to cover everyday issues or struggles, for instance, one painting is called “Mortgage” depicting a man’s face with a block on his head. Pacman also seems to make a couple of appearances. A Jigsaw Life is the work of Eion Stevens, where his book on the side of the room explains how each art piece denotes a poem.


As we follow corridors, we are faced with different art exhibitions. Although there seems to be some really cool African sculptures to our right, we decide to check out a more humble room to our left first. (Hell, we have all day, right?)

Inside, framed pieces show the word “pine” written over and over again, with the artist’s thoughts or poetry scrawled at the bottom of the piece. Whatever this art means, we find it pretty disturbing, (or at least it comes from a disturbed mind).

A turn in themes

Now, back to those African sculptures. Two wooden sculptures almost reaching from floor to ceiling sit on either side of the entrance into some serious multicultural art. How can this art gallery make such a dramatic turn in themes?!

Around the world in one gallery

Wooden heads with straw-like beards are on display in glass cases. Pottery, Mali warriors with distinctive dreadlocks ride wooden horses, a woman merged into a wooden horse… Then the exhibition turns Maori for the duration of a wall with a carved weapon and paintings made with the Maori colours of red, black and white…

A couple of bookcase-like displays lit up in different colours show masks from cultures all over the world and small African sculptures that we think IKEA might have found inspiration from.

A line of warriors

The grand finale to this culture walk through the Eastern Southland Gallery is a long line of Malian statues, almost to life-scale. The line seems to go through from young boy to older chief. Each statue has a deer the warrior has just hunted around its neck, again, the deer growing in size the older and more experienced the warrior is.

We were not expecting such a diverse hub of culture hidden in Gore! Eastern Southland Gallery is far from your dusty forgotten art gallery. It’s fair to say that we were pretty blown away by the art and detail here, from the unexpected Medusa’s all the way to the grand Malian warrior sculptures!

The finale of our Gore visit starts tomorrow!

Gore has given us whisky, has shown us its hidden collection of diverse art, and tomorrow it is going to show us its history in aviation. That’s right, tomorrow we are getting the chance to actually fly in a vintage plane (if the weather is Ok – it’s had to be cancelled on us once already, which is fair enough because we don’t want to be in an old aircraft in a storm, thank you very much)… Join us then!

Face-to-face with the warriors of Eastern Southland Gallery!

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See you tomorrow!