Under the cover of darkness, the Walk of Wonders festival has come alive this week, enchanting wanderers in a spell of visual and aural magic.
Anthony van Dorsten is the co-organiser and storyteller behind the event, which opened to the public on Thursday this week and will run until August 15.
The festival of light and fire is based in Black Barn in Havelock North and hosts 20 art installations that inspire a broad sensual engagement of sight, sound and touch.
Trees glow at the event's entrance in changing hues, fire cauldrons hang slightly off-track to warm the hands of passing walkers and projections play with one's sense of space and time - transporting walkers into the Walk of Wonders story with perfectly-matched musical scores.
The story follows the journey of a young Timea Aroha Nicks as she follows a ruru (morepork) through a portal into a parallel universe, which is communicated through a series of rhyming verses that accompany the installations.
Van Dorsten's storytelling is influenced by his love of sci-fi and fantasy genres, with the artist riffing off DC Comics and Marvel myth inspiration.
Van Dorsten's goal is to inspire people with the event, as well as to "give artists a platform to build big things that break people out of the mundane".
The Auckland-born and Hawke's Bay-based artist has a passion for building large-scale art that stirs people through the absorptive and sensual nature of the experience.
"The walking aspect enables an immersion in a magical environment that breaks people out of the everyday. The magic lies in touching as many senses as possible in a cohesive way.
"Black Barn is a great site to tell the story in, where people can walk a linear timeline and wonder at the adventures of the protagonist Timea Aroha Nicks."
Van Dorsten's vision of a parallel universe called Time-A, as explored by Timea, formed the foundation from which fellow creatives developed and explored their own interpretation of the story.
"This is community-driven creativity. The event would be impossible without the goodwill of all those involved - locally, nationally and internationally. The event is a gift to galvanise people and work towards a common creative vision," said van Dorsten.
Thursday's soft-opening garnered some 400 people, including crew members, Van Dorsten said.
"Everything's working great, it will just keep on getting better throughout the week. We're expecting up to 1000 people on Friday and 1200 to Saturday's sold-out event."
Van Dorsten hopes the magic of the Walk of Wonders festival will continue to charm the region for years to come, bewitching wanderers into a parallel world of creative possibility.