Travel: Down the rabbit hole at Gibbs farm


The parking attendant at Gibbs Farm is concerned - a record crowd of 3000 is expected, which means nose-to-tail traffic on the Kaipara Coast Highway and some tempers likely rising to match the mercury as drivers inch on to the 400ha property.

But he needn't have worried as once people step out of their vehicles the landscape and its striking sculptures works its charm and, hey, isn't that a giraffe over there?

Well, yes it is ... but look more closely and you'll find it's a life-size giraffe by corrugated iron artist Jeff Thomson ... but, hang on, didn't the other one just move?

Well, yes it did, because the farm is also home to some exotic animals, including two giraffes, zebra, ostriches, Highland cattle and water buffalo. The real-fake giraffe thing is a handy metaphor for the place as a whole as it's a bit like being washed up on the other side of the mirror.

It's a farm where paddocks are mowed, that has a fence listed among the artworks, a sculpture park where cattle graze around the pieces and where sheep have added a new dimension to a gargantuan steel wall by rubbing along it.

Expect the unexpected, like the newest artwork - which isn't a structure placed in the landscape, but a reforming of the landscape itself.

A Fold in the Field by Maya Lin has been made this summer on the coastal flats where five large earth "folds" or undulations have been created and grassed over.

The attention to detail at the property is stupendous - employees whizz around on quad bikes delivering guides (free and in full colour) and toilet rolls, and later picking up older visitors who haven't the oomph left to get back to their vehicles.

Owner Alan Gibbs opens his property once a month for nine months of the year.

Generously, considering all the dosh he's spent since 1991 on sculptures, guidebooks, toilet rolls and free sunblock, there is no charge. However, visits must be booked and "fully booked" signs are common for some months ahead.

For more information see www.gibbsfarm.org.nz The farm is about an hour's drive north of Auckland.

- Hamilton News

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