Wind Wand

Be impressed by this kinetic sculpture as it drifts back and forth in the Taranaki wind on New Plymouth’s lovely coastal walkway.

Set against the glorious backdrop of the Tasman Sea, the Wind Wand is a 147-foot (45-meter) high sculpture, consisting of a red fiberglass tube that has a diameter of only 8 inches (20 centimeters), but which can bend up to 65 feet (20 meters) in any direction. At its peak is a sphere that contains 1,296 light-emitting diodes and emits a soft red glow at night. Go for a walk or bike ride along the coastal walkway and stop to admire and photograph the immense and bizarre sculpture.

Designed by internationally renowned New Zealand artist Len Lye, the sculpture was installed in 1999 as part of the city’s millennium development program. Despite facing initial ridicule from the community, the Wind Wand is now an iconic and beloved feature of the city. Make sure to allow time to visit the sculpture, as it is a must-see of any trip to New Plymouth.

Take a seat nearby the sculpture to consider it in more depth. Focus on the dramatic interaction between the artwork and the surrounding scenery. Whether there is a storm brewing or calm weather afoot, the Wind Wand adds a dynamic element to the natural environment. Turn your attention to its physical design. The artist has described earlier wands with these poetic words: “Their weight is so lightly balanced that if a bumble bee stood on the ball at the top they would dip a bit, and the more honey he carried the more it would dip.”

Visit the Govett-Brewster gallery nearby if you feel inspired by the sculpture and want to learn more about its creator. It is a five-minute walk away and contains a permanent exhibition of Len Lye’s works, including other kinetic sculptures.

The best way to see the Wind Wand is while exploring New Plymouth’s coastal walkway, a 12.7-kilometre-long (7.9-mile) promenade that hugs the coastline and stretches the length of the city. Enjoy spectacular views of New Zealand’s dramatic west coast and see other public artworks while walking or cycling along the track.