The streets of Hamilton and the city's public spaces are a visual feast of quirky murals and eye-catching sculptures, many of them telling local stories and the work of mighty local artists.
Currently, there are more than 60 public murals and sculptures helping to make Hamilton colourful and fascinating – and there will be even more to intrigue in the city when two visiting large-scale sculptures light up the night as part of this year's Boon After Dark festival, which runs from June 17 to July 29.
To celebrate our talented Waikato artists ahead of this next visual installment we're profiling some of the eye-catching works seen around the city.
There are also a number of new murals to be checked out at the University of Waikato following the recently staged Boon on Campus festival.
And while you are exploring the city art scene, be sure to stop in at the local bars and eateries dotted across the city for refreshments, pop into the shops or purchase a piece of artwork at one of the galleries. All are great ways to help boost local businesses.
Hamilton's street art has been created by an eclectic mix of local artists, as well as some of the big names of the New Zealand and international art scene. These works invite visitors and mighty locals alike to explore the streets and riverside walkways to discover the artistic wonders.
Take Victoria St, in the heart of Hamilton CBD.
Within the space of a couple of blocks, there are colourful murals adorning Hamilton City Council and the central library. Further along the street outside Waikato Museum is sculptor Michael Parekowhai's Tongue of the Dog with its cascading 'lick' of water, as well as the world-famous Riff Raff statue celebrating Rocky Horror Picture Show creator and local Richard O'Brien.
On adjacent side streets, there are countless murals tucked away, while the Te Kopu Mania o Kirikiriroa wall (also known as the Wintec Wall) is on nearby Anglesea St. The largest wall mural in New Zealand, it illustrates the Waikato River, three tui, a human depiction of Matariki and the nine stars – shown as triangles – that make up the constellation.
The work, measuring 248m, is a collaboration of three Te Whētū Collective artists – Poihakena Ngāwati, Hana Maihi, and Te Haunui Tuna.
Regional arts trust Creative Waikato's chief executive Jeremy Mayall says art in Hamilton has a different energy to the art to be seen in the likes of Auckland, Wellington or even Melbourne.
"There's a real connection to the land here, with natural and landscape themes running through a lot of the work.
"Many of Hamilton's public artworks focus on the rich Māori history found throughout the Waikato region, or the Waikato River that flows through the centre of the city."
He says one of the best-known is Te Tatau ki Kirikiriroa – the 'doorway to Hamilton' – created by acclaimed Māori artist Robert Jahnke. Crafted from corten steel and taking pride of place in the Victoria on the River space, this impressive work provides a portal to Hamilton's Māori history.
The walkway along the Waikato River offers plenty more opportunity to see stunning works.
There is the dramatic kārearea native falcon mural overlooking Victoria on the River, the work of artists Charlie and Janine Williams, and Neil Dawson's Ripples sculpture suspended 20 metres above the river behind the Waikato Museum.
Nearby Ferrybank Reserve is home to Tōia Mai, a waka sculpture made of plate steel. Nearly seven metres tall and located on a historic waka landing site, Tōia Mai tells the story of Matariki through an Internet of Things network using data and environmental sensors.
The sculpture greets those stepping inside it with the birdcalls of the tūī. The installation is the work of Wintec students and staff led by visual arts lecturer Dr Joe Citizen.