Missed out on the TRENZ Art Trail tour but still want to see all the most colourful concrete in Dunedin? You’re right to be feeling a bit blue, because the street art trail is a truly world class attraction, and breathes an incredible sense of soul into the once very humdrum Warehouse Precinct, so here is your very own self-guided tour itinerary, packed with some of the best artworks, and other things you ought to know about along the way.
As the first artist to join the Dunedin Street Art campaign, you simply cannot start your experience of the trail anywhere other than at ROA’s iconic giant tuatara on Bath Street. Nomadic and enigmatic, ROA is an anonymous Belgian artist whose works often feature animals native to the locations he visits. His work can be found in cities all over the world, from London to New York, Moscow to Mexico City, so to have such a widely recognised and respected artist create some magic in little old Dunedin is a pretty big deal.
415 Moray Place, OTA, NZ
The walk between the first two artworks on the tour is far from dull, taking you past some pretty significant and eye-catching historical landmarks. The first, aptly named the First Church of Otago, is a spectacular display of gothic architecture and reminder of Dunedin’s early settler history. It sits proudly on an open green space, and is enough to make any unsuspecting passer-by gasp in admiration. Just around the corner is the beautiful Queens Gardens, where a striking marble cenotaph honours local servicemen and women killed in war.
38 Water Street, OTA, NZ
What do you get when you put eight of the coolest local and international street artists together? This colourful and exciting mural collaboration on Water Street, which was begun as part of the first Dunedin Street Art Festival in 2014 and was completed early in 2015. You could stand there for hours soaking in all the very unique styles and piecing together what they all symbolise, but in the meantime, just enjoy being able to appreciate all the incredible talent in one space.
58 Vogel Street, OTA, NZ
A splash of Dunedin brilliance, Maggie Covell’s work on Vogel Street is a piece about the dichotomy between good and evil and the juxtaposition between light and dark, but you’d worked that out already, right? The work is entitled “The Witching Hour” and is inspired by Victorian illustrator Aubrey Beardsley and 16th century German woodcuts, and it is simply breathtaking. The birds are symbols of lost souls and dark dreams, whereas the halos behind the figures represent the path of illumination to being awake. Here’s hoping you sleep soundly tonight.
76 Vogel Street, OTA, NZ
Widely renowned and celebrated, the UK’s Phlegm has contributed many thought-provoking works for the Dunedin Street Art Trail. This one, at 76 Vogel Street, incorporates local history alongside Phlegm’s distinctly fantastical style and unique mysterious figures. Māori waka and a steam-punk submarine emerge from a fish’s mouth, alluding to a bizarre apparition of a Japanese submarine in the Otago Harbour. Whilst you’re in the ‘hood, check out the works by Dunedin local Devon Smith and Argentinian Hyuro, which are all on the same corner.
76 Vogel Street, OTA, NZ
Champion of the Warehouse Precinct, Vogel St Kitchen and the Street Art Trail go hand in hand. With eight different murals on Vogel Street, it goes without saying that you can’t go to Vogel St Kitchen without experiencing the art trail; and with their delicious menu, we think it’s only fair that it works the other way too. Stay for a while in their aesthetically renovated industrial space and experience the special vibe that is made up of all the best parts of Dunedin’s arty and youthful culture.
10 Carroll Street, OTA, NZ
Dunedin artist Andy McCready is described on her website as being “generally found at punk rock gigs or partaking in the free beer at art openings.” With this in mind, her pair of candy-coloured murals (‘Motel Mints’ and ‘Pink Smokers’) make sense, as the two depicted women could probably be found in the same place. Drawing stylistically from comic books and consumer culture, the work’s mid-century pop sensibility evokes road trips, retro motels and the effortless cool of rebellious girls.
365 Princes Street, OTA, NZ
Italian artist Pixel Pancho created this iconic work for the art trail using his distinctive robot-meets-human style. “Riding Dreams” demonstrates an interweaving of the human form, flora, and metal to create the uncanny image of a not quite human boy riding a fantastical metal horse, covering the yellow wall with an extra burst of colour and surreality. Its location on the wall of kids indoor play centre, Chipmunks, adds even more meaning to Pancho’s fascination with portraying man’s desire of immortality.
5 Stafford Street, OTA, NZ
In a world-first collaboration, Pixel Pancho and Phlegm teamed up to create this intricately detailed work, blending together their own unique styles to create a surreal battle between Pixel Pancho’s robots and Phlegm’s sloth-like creatures. The mural works together with the climbing plants that shroud the wall, forming an entire world of fantastical characters fighting for their own kind. The British/Italian duo had better be working on a new collaboration, because we can’t get enough of this one.
25 Stafford Street, OTA, NZ
New Zealand’s extinct Haast Eagle is reborn in the distinctive style of Chinese artist DALeast in this mural, making it look as if it has been constructed out of thousands of metal shards. Standing back and taking this artwork in at its full scale is quite breathtaking, as it is effectively a series of lines which give off an incredible illusion of energy and life. The giant eagle looks as if it is going to leap off its concrete canvas, but with the look in its eyes, you’d best hope it doesn’t.
329 Princes Street, OTA, NZ
Stop off for a well-deserved coffee at one of Dunedin’s most socially and environmentally-conscious cafés, Vanguard Specialty Coffee. Not only does this café have a delicious range of great food and drinks, they are also committed to educating their customers about traceability, transparency and sustainability in the coffee industry, meaning you’ll leave their quaint little space with so much more than just a compostable coffee cup. There’s one section of the art trail, a mural by Argentinian artist Hyuro, which can only be viewed through Vanguard’s back window, so it’s a great chance to add another one to your mental art collection.
12 Manse Street, OTA, NZ
“Song Bird Pipe Organ” presents one of Phlegm’s distinctively mysterious figures playing an unusual organ, releasing native New Zealand birds as he plays. The colourful birds seem to bring light and happiness to the dark world of the painting, portraying the beauty of both music and our precious native fauna. We quite like the idea of New Zealand birdsong being played through such a funky organ as this one, and with those colours, it’s sure to sound good.
179 Rattray Street, OTA, NZ
Local artist cooperative STICKUM, made up of artists Aroha Novak and Guy Howard-Smith, created a series of murals around Dunedin with the goal of engaging local youth in the community’s history and culture. This artwork in particular brings the history of Dunedin vividly into the present by highlighting the different cultures and people who settled in Dunedin and their strong ties to the land. Painted on a site which has significant Chinese settler and Maori history tied to it, the mural forges a colourful connection between the past and present.
149 Rattray Street, OTA, NZ
Known for his huge, multiple-storey murals, Fintan Magee is changing the game in street art. His contribution to the Dunedin Art Trail is his largest work yet, depicting three local children trying to capture a cloud in ‘Chasing the Thin White Cloud.’ The softly-coloured mural very impressively covers two sides of a building, and Magee’s realistic style of painting means the clouds at the top seem to merge perfectly into the actual sky.
What better way to finish your art trail than with a cold beer at the home of Dunedin’s most famous brew, the Speight’s Ale House. Vibrant but cosy, the original Speight’s Ale House is a local favourite, with a menu made up of all the most hearty southern fare. If you get the timing right, you could also coincide your visit with a tour of the iconic Speight’s Brewery, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Speight’s became a legend in the south. Quench the thirst you’ve worked up from all the walking with some beer sampling, then go for a tall glass of your favourite back in the ale house.