I often wonder what New Zealand must have sounded like before man arrived, and imagine an extremely noisy place, with birds singing and calling in the forests and by the sea shore. Given its remote location, there are several unique species of bird that live on these islands, such as the famous kiwi and one of my favourites, the kākāpō (see my post about Sirocco, spokesbird for conservation). This year as part of the New Zealand Festival, the team that put together the amazing light and sculpture display in the Botanic Gardens in 2012, Power Plant, created For The Birds, an art experience in the native forest of Otari-Wilton’s Bush.
Even though we don’t live that far from the Otari Native Botanic Garden and Wilton’s Bush Reserve, we had never been there, so it was a double experience for us. Otari-Wilton’s Bush is the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to native plants, and is a unique plant sanctuary. It has some of the area’s oldest trees, including an 800-year-old rimu, and is also classified as a Garden of National Significance by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture.
Entrance times are staggered so that people get a chance to see things and there are not too many people tramping through the bush at the same time. The pathway to follow is lit by lights that actually become part of the experience, their reflections making shapes on the ground. The first ‘exhibit’ we came to were these cages with contraptions producing interesting sounds – honestly, I can think of no other way to describe them.
As you walk around, things spring up to surprise you, such as whizzing lights on wires that sound and feel like birds flying past, mini drones (so I learned later) hovering to look like glow worms/fire flies, large, metal origami cranes flying over the water and musical instruments made of feathers and wire.
A light tunnel
Feathers, spinning in light
It took about an hour to walk around, and was a great experience, and different from Power Plant two years ago. The exhibition (is that what it was?) was somehow darker and making more points about conservation, but still fascinating and an amazing way to spend an evening.
If you are in Wellington, you can catch For The Birds until 19th March. Check this link for how to get tickets.