The art of the journey

New Zealand’s brand-new Coastal Arts Trail launches with the creation of a world first Gallery-Camper

The new Coastal Arts Trail is an easy, self-driving, art-lovers’ tour across the lower West Coast of the North Island. The country’s newest, and largest regional arts tourism experience features over 50 stops, thanks to a unique collaboration between the Manawatū, Whanganui, and Taranaki regions.

The Trail takes visitors through an eclectic mix of public art, street art, galleries and museums, as well as off-the-beaten-track studios and creative rural communities. This new art explorer road trip showcases the incredible variety of creativity on offer, redefining what it means to take the scenic route.

With the creative spirit of the trail in mind, the Coastal Arts Trail has partnered with Quirky Campers NZ to design the ultimate trail companion, a world first gallery-camper.

This is an art-immersive campervan, purpose-built and designed for the trail, and it will be available for public booking. That is, of course, after it’s been named: members of the public are encouraged to send suggestions. Will it be Vinnie Van Go? Artie? Vallery, or something else?

Dr Emma Bugden, Whanganui & Partners Strategic Lead- Creative Industries & Arts says, “Our galleries and community of artists bring colour and life to our city and communicate what is at the heart of Whanganui. We are so happy to have the opportunity to share Whanganui’s creativity and evolving art practice.

“Our river and heritage have inspired generations of artists and visitors and we embrace every chance to share their work,” Bugden said.

“Whanganui is a UNESCO City of Design and our creative environment has nurtured a significant artistic legacy; it is our privilege to share that vision with visitors.”

Curator Aimée Ralfini has been appointed to lead the creative development of the Gallery-Camper. On the maiden journey along the Coastal Arts Trail, Ralfini will collect pieces that highlight the incredible work New Zealand artists have to offer in these regions, for installation in the campervan.

“Art has the ability to change the way we experience the world around us,” says Ralfini. “A campervan designed specifically for a regional art trail presents a unique opportunity to view the world through a creative lens.”

Bringing art outside of the traditional ‘white cube’ space, the Gallery-Camper is a good fit for Ralfini, who’s passionate about strengthening the role art plays beyond the gallery. This passion led her to pave the way for New Zealand artists in mainstream and social media.

Her visual arts activation platform Art Ache similarly disrupts conventional ways of engaging with art, using events, digital billboard campaigns, podcasts, and other tools to, as she puts it, “strengthen New Zealand’s creative muscle”.

Building the first Gallery-Camper, then, might not be too far out of character. For Ralfini, “It breaks all the rules, about where we think art should be, and how we interact with art. And that’s a good thing.”

The Gallery-Camper is currently in development and in search of a name. Follow the journey on Instagram and book in advance via Quirky Campers.


About the Coastal Arts Trail

 The Coastal Arts Trail brings together three regions that share a depth of artistic and cultural assets. A partnership between the Central Economic Development Agency (Manawatū), Whanganui & Partners, and Venture Taranaki, the project recognises the importance of kotahitanga, working together towards common goals. The creative industries are a shared strategic focus for all three regions, and this will be their most significant collaboration to date.

In the planning for over 5 years, the vision for the Trail has finally been realised with the help of government funding for the recovery of tourism communities impacted by COVID-19*.

The Coastal Arts Trail aims to attract a wide range of people interested in new arts and culture experiences with an extensive collection of public art, street art, galleries, museums, open studios, workshops and events.

Coastal Arts Trail


*The Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery, and Re-Set Plan 2021/22, is a $200 million tourism support package and an extension of the Government’s 2020 Strategic Tourism Asset Protection Programme (STAPP), created to aid the recovery of tourism communities in the wake of COVID-19.


About Aimée Ralfini

For the last 9 years, Aimée Ralfini has curated visual arts activation platform Art Ache. Art Ache communicates fine art and creative thought to a wide and varied audience through events, social media, digital billboard campaigns, podcasts and other bespoke activations. Through it Ralfini aims to strengthen New Zealand’s creative muscle.

As the founder and curator of Art Ache Ralfini has mentored and generated interview podcasts for well over 200 New Zealand artists, from emerging to Aotearoa’s most esteemed. She has produced 20 art events, hosted an art radio show for four years (establishing it as viable entertainment), and has her exhibition selection of Tāmaki Makaurau published monthly in Verve.

Considered a visionary in the arts sector by her peers, Ralfini is credited with paving the way for New Zealand artists on social and in mainstream media. She is passionate about strengthening the role art plays in society, wants art to be part of everyday conversation, and wholeheartedly believes artists are the litmus paper of contemporary life. It is this genuine investment Ralfini has in artists, that allows them to feel comfortable with her when sharing their stories.


About Quirky Campers NZ

Quirky Campers is a small New Zealand business run by husband and wife team, Leanne and Dan Edwards, offering handcrafted campervan rentals. They act as an agent for a collection of friendly and likeminded campervan owners, each with a unique and beautiful vehicle they have lovingly created and want to share with the world. Quirky Campers is all about celebrating creativity, craftsmanship, “made in NZ” and getting out there to see New Zealand’s beautiful backyard… preferably in a gorgeous bach-on-wheels!


  • Log in
  • Register

Forgot Password

Register to gain access to the Discover Whanganui resource hub.