Travel

The Weird, Whacky and Wonderful Art You Don’t Want to Miss at MONA

From a room of nothingness to a controversial vaginal wall, MONA is a wonderful place.

best things to see at mona
Photo credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image courtesy of Mona, Hobart, Tasmania

MONA is the legendary museum in Hobart, Tasmania, started by David Walsh, who in his words helped him “bang above his weight.” If there ever was a reason to spend millions of dollars and create Australia’s largest private museum, then I guess Walsh found it.

The museum which has gained attention from around the world is no ordinary museum. The sub-level structure is an architectural marvel, which started as Walsh’s private house, but has now become a maze of underground tunnels, airy, colourful extensions, and a monument to art.

Inside, the walls are constantly changing, but visitors can expect to be shocked, confused, and impressed by not only the art but the restaurants and other spaces. Think of a really expensive kitchen garden, a nice spot to listen to live music, and even a place to tie the knot.

The general collection houses 1900 pieces and counting, and all art goes through the revolving door, but here are the weirdest, whackiest, awe-inspiring artworks to see on your next visit to MONA—if it’s still there when you go.

20:50

This art installation from Richard Wilson was created in 1987 and now lives in MONA. You can walk out to the point, which reveals a depthless surface. The installation is built out of sump oil and steel. The artwork explores reflections and optical illusions. It’s seriously trippy and has become famous for good reason.

Bit.fall

Bit.fall is a waterfall that writes out Google’s top word searches of the day with every fall. Created by Julius Popp, this impressive artwork is definitely one to add to the list. It’s also right near the entrance so you can’t miss it.

Photo Credit: MONA/Jesse Hunniford Image courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Beside Myself

Walk along a narrow path, illuminated by bright lights, giving the illusion there is a wall on either side.

best things to see at mona
Photo Credit: MONA/Jesse Hunniford Image courtesy of the artist and MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Event Horizon

James Turrell’s, Event Horizon is a stunning art experience where one enters a room, and all sense of space is lost. The room looks like a projected screen on the wall, but inside, the corners disappear, and distance becomes a faded concept. It’s an incredible experience.

best things to see at mona
Copyright James Turrell Photo Credit: MONA/RĂ©mi Chauvin Image Courtesy MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Amarna

This is another of Turrell’s insane installations. During sunrise and sunset, the artwork lights up, harnessing the potential of light and space.

best things to see at mona
Artist: James Turrell Photo Credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image courtesy of the artist and Mona, Hobart, Tasmania

Unseen Seen

If you can’t already tell, any Turrell artwork is worth the time. This particular one is a giant white orb, which you can step inside and experience nothingness. Choose a hard or soft mode for different atmospheres.

Ladies Lounge

Sorry men, this one is for the ladies only. We won’t give away too much, but let’s just say the ladies’ lounge is everything you expect of a lounge area just for ladies.

best things to see at mona
Photo credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image courtesy of the artists and Mona, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cunts…and other conversations

This artwork made a lot of noise when it was first unveiled. The controversies were probably why Walsh secured it for his private collection. It’s confronting but beautiful to see.

Cloaca Professional

We did mention MONA is known for the weird and whacky. Cloaca Professional is an artwork by Belgium artist Wim Delvoye. This piece looks at digestion via machine. At 11 am, they feed the machine, and around 2 pm, you can watch it poop. It gets pretty crowded—be warned, it smells.

best things to see at mona
Photo Credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Phase Shifting Index

Part science-fiction documentary, part psychedelic meltdown, this multi-channel video work depicts humans engaged in various forms of group. The movements include tai chi and hardcore rave. The artist, Jeremy Shaw’s vision, forms the basis for a new system of belief—one governed by gesture and body.

best things to see at mona
Photo Credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Exodust—Crying Country

Exodust—Crying Country is a collaborative exhibition project from the celebrated Sydney-born and Hobart-based artist Fiona Hall, and AJ King, a Bigambul / Wakka Wakka cultural practitioner. A large timber hut—scorched inside and out—appears amid a scene of environmental devastation, reminiscent of a fire-bombed logging coupe.

best things to see at mona
Photo Credit: Mona/Jesse Hunniford Image Courtesy Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Within an utterance

Within an utterance, sees Andrew collaborate with Pakana curator Zoe Rimmer, Aboriginal linguistic consultant Theresa Sainty, and cultural burning practitioner and Wakka Wakka man Luke Mabb. The exhibition also responds to the physical site of Mona, which is dotted with twelve shell middens.

MORE: The Best Restaurants in Hobart Right Now

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Travel

Find Volcanoes, Wine Islands, and Thrills in Auckland

One minute you're on a ferry to wine island, the next you could be bungy jumping off of New Zealand's tallest tower.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

The city of Auckland is a free spirit. It is easily the most geographically blessed city in New Zealand. Within an hour, you could be tasting wines on an island, chasing more than 50 volcanoes, or leaving footprints on a black sand beach. Keep in mind, that Auckland is the country’s most populous city but certainly doesn’t feel cramped.

Instead, the city is buzzing with trendy eateries, boutique shops, quiet streets, and expansive green parks. Around every corner, you’re never too far from something beautiful to see.

From world-class wines to kickass thrills, here’s where to find what you’re looking for in Auckland.

things to do auckland

Seek the thrills

If you thought Queenstown was the home of the adrenaline rush, wait until you see Auckland. In the middle of the city, you can jump off a sky tower or a bridge, zip through the jungle, and scream on a high-octane jet boat ride. The Sky Tower, which can be seen from every corner of Auckland is more than just a landmark. Take a ride to the top and sign up for a Skywalk, where you can wander around the platform, which just so happens to be 192 metres above the ground. If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, you can always jump off it. It’s New Zealand’s highest jump, and can only be described as just like being a movie stuntman, or a superhero. 

The other iconic place to jump off of is the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Unlike the Sky Jump, this one will have thrill seekers dipping their hands and head in the ocean. It’s a 40-metre Bungy, and a great experience. Although, if you’d rather still take advantage of the bridge views, book a climb, which takes you right to the top for sweeping views of the city.

Another way to take in the city is via Auckland Adventure Jet, which takes passengers for spins and tricks on the water.

Just a 35-minute boat ride from Auckland is Waiheke Island, where thrill-seekers will find Eco Zip Adventures. Across three separate lines, you will zip high above a working vineyard and lush, ancient forest canopies, soaking up incredible views back to the city and beyond.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Sip wine on Waiheke Island

Whether you want to spend a weekend or a day, Waiheke Island is a must-visit. It’s around a 35-minute ferry ride to the island from Auckland, and once there you can hop from winery to winery. The island is quite large and the terrain is rugged, so trust the experts and book a tour with Ananda Tours. The small, family-run business is owned by Jenny who has been on the island since before the vines were planted and she’s the best person to seek out when getting the Waiheke Island experience. You can book a private tour or group tour, and they can be catered to your preferences and tastes. A few standout stops include Kennedy Point, where they produce fully certified organic Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay wines. You can also state estate-grown olive oils, which the island has plenty of. Enjoy a tasting on the deck with views of Kennedy Bay, or enjoy a picnic under the olive grove.

For the best views on the island, head to Batch Vineyard. As the highest vineyard on Waiheke, you will be treated to panoramic views of the rolling hills, blue waters, and even Auckland city. Their sparkling wine, Blanc de Blancs is a must-try.

When it comes to lunch, there are two spots to choose from. The first is Stonyridge, which is also where you can taste premium award-winning wines, including a Cabernet blend Larose—New Zealand’s cult wine. The second is Mudbrick, a romantic spot, set amongst beautiful gardens with even more spectacular views, and a bar and bistro serving up some of the best dishes on the island.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Eat your way through the city

Auckland’s dining scene isn’t pretentious, but the food quality is good enough to rival the best restaurants in New York—but the city doesn’t like to brag. Instead, it celebrates good food in every setting, from waterside restaurants to trendy Mexican eateries in a shopping centre.

Inca, is helmed by critically acclaimed chef, Nic Watt. Inspired by Watt’s travels to Peru, diners can expect to find Nikkei cuisine, including spicy chicken karaage, hand-pressed corn tacos filled with pork cheek and spicy tuna. You wouldn’t expect to find such a good restaurant in a shopping centre, but there it is.

Another great trendy restaurant is Hello Beasty, which is home to the famous, prawn and crab toast. This work of art starts with a slice of crispy deep-fried bread, smothered with prawn and crab mousse. On top, there are slices of wagyu, drizzled with a sweet and sour sauce. Although, there are plenty of other great dishes on the menu, including a Sichuan tuna tartare, Korean fried cauliflower, and potstickers swimming in chilli oil. Try the yuzu mandarin soda if you’re looking for something fizzy to go with dinner or lunch.

Deli De Bossi is a recent opening and already becoming a favourite breakfast spot. Apart from coffee, you can get all kinds of toasted sandwiches, filled with everything from mushrooms to hams and salamis.

Another iconic eat-hit list is Parade in Ponsonby. Here, the burgers are served in a pretzel bun and filled with chicken or beef.

Most of these restaurants are casual, but if you’re looking for something a little fancy, book a table at Kingi. Taking cues from Sydney’s own Josh Niland, the dishes at Kingi focus on sustainable seafood, caught locally by local fishermen. The blue cod wings are a must. They’re covered in burnt lime and served with a ranch sauce for dipping. The stracciatella with feijoa is also a standout dish, that’s light and a great start to a meal. Inside, the dining room is cosy with bench seats, fire heaters, and exploded brick walls.

After dinner, walk down the street and grab dessert from Miann. The flavour of the day is always chocolate, and they serve up seriously good desserts. Try the tasting platter for a piece of each pastry on the menu of the day, or pick one that is most desirable to you. Although, the tasting platter is only $23 and you’d be missing out on tasting a little of everything they offer if you didn’t get it.

things to do auckland
Photo: Natasha Bazika

Discover art, culture, and movie magic

One of the best ways to learn about a city or country is by visiting its top museums and galleries. The Auckland War Memorial Museum sits atop a hill in Auckland’s Domain, which also happens to be the city’s oldest volcano. This museum is one of the most important as it tells the story of New Zealand’s natural and military history. Take a self-guided walking tour to explore at your own pace. There are plenty of interactive features for the kids and adults. The museum also hosts exhibitions. An ancient Greek exhibition is currently on display and is one of the largest exhibitions the British Museum has ever loaned to Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Art lovers, spend a few hours wandering around the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi O Tāmaki. You will find artworks from around the world, including a Picasso or two. Although, the exhibitions are a real treat. Yona Lee’s, An Arrangement of Five Rooms is an incredible installation, spanning multiple rooms, which you can sit on and touch—to immerse yourself in the artwork. Declaration: A Pacific Feminist Agenda, is another must-see exhibition exploring the most pressing issues of our times: climate change and resilience, tino rangatiratanga (sovereignty), activism and social justice.

While art and history museums are insightful and a great way to educate a visitor, there are some other museum types that can be a lot of fun and interactive. Weta Workshop Unleashed is a new Auckland attraction and an incredible experience you don’t want to miss. Step into the world of filmmaking, explore how horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films are made and at times feel as if you’re in a movie. Comedic tour guides will introduce you to movies that are in production and explain every aspect, from prop making to effects, and more. There are even mysteries to be solved, making it fun for the whole family. It’s truly an unmissable experience in Auckland, and one of the best, unique tours you might ever experience.

things to do auckland
Photo: @sidwithlens

Walk on a volcano

Erupting over 100,000 years ago, Pukekawa is one of Auckland’s oldest and most popular volcanoes. Today, the Domain parkland is the remains of the explosion crater and most of the surrounding tuff ring of Pukekawa. Most days you will see people running around the park, families picnicking on the weekend, and tourists snapping photos by the pond or under a magnificent tree, grown from an experiment conducted by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. Enter from one end, enjoy a picturesque walk, and exit through the historic Parnell shopping and restaurant area. On a sunny day, the atmosphere is charged with romance, but even in the rain, it’s a moody, beautiful sight to see. The Auckland War Memorial Museum’s large neo-Greek architecture is also a standout, commanding top-of-the-mountain views.

where to stay in auckland

Where to stay in Auckland

If you’re looking to sleep on top of the world, you can’t beat a room in Cordis Auckland’s new Pinnacle Tower. From the pillowy-cloud-like beds, guests have sweeping views of the city from the Sky Tower to Rangitoto and Mount Eden. Enjoy a breakfast buffet in the Eight restaurant downstairs, and canapes and drinks in the Cordis Club lounge on the 14th floor. There’s also a health club, spa, and swimming pool. The hotel is within walking distance to some of the best eateries in Auckland, making it a prime option.

Although, if you’re looking to stay in the heart of Britomart, Auckland’s hub of shopping, eating, and drinking, then The Hotel Britomart is where you want to be. From its exterior of hand-made bricks to its beautifully timber-lined rooms, The Hotel Britomart does detail like nobody else. Plus, the best of downtown waterfront Auckland is just outside your front door. With 5 Green Star Design and Build ratings from the NZ Green Building Council, The Hotel Britomart is the country’s ONLY 5 Green Star hotel, and has sustainability built in from the ground up. 

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