Watercolour Paintaways

Our Paintaways are held biannually, sometimes in the North Island, sometimes in the South Island. They are the ideal opportunity for members from 'the Provinces" to join with fellow artists and paint outdoors together. We always make new friends in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Paintaways are for both professional and aspiring artists, and also for partners. We choose locations with inspiring New Zealand landscapes, interesting buildings and even local characters. Watercolour New Zealand Paintaways are the ideal opportunity to make new friends and paint outdoors in good company. Paintaways are for everyone. New painters will be supported by experienced painters. Non-painters are welcome. Come and make new friends.

Check out the fun and action photos

Our next Safari...

SPRING PAINTAWAY TO WHANGANUI 29 November to 3 December 2019

You are invited to join a Watercolour New Zealand Paintaway to Whanganui. We’ll have a long weekend to paint, enjoy the scenery and each other’s company. Paintaways are for everyone. New painters will be supported by experienced painters. Non-painters are welcome. Come and make new friends.

Whanganui is set on a grand river with a steamboat! There are river and mountain views, historic buildings, a black sand beach and pretty parks to paint. This will be a time to relax after Splash 2019 is all completed and before the Christmas action hits!

For further information email:
Subject line: Paintaway


30 Watercolour New Zealand members and partners had a great weekend painting atmospheric Akaroa, on Banks Peninsula, south-east of Christchurch. We had a long weekend to paint, enjoy the scenery and each other’s company.

Akaroa is a pretty village steeped in French history, facing an inland harbour and backed by an amphitheatre of hills.

SUE SIMPSON reports:

This was the first time I had been on a Watercolour NZ Paintaway, so I wasn’t too sure how many were going or if I would really enjoy it, BUT ! … so glad I went, and what a great time it was!!
There were 32 of us in all, and for me, coming from Ashburton, it was a real treat to meet, and put faces to, other painters.

After settling into our accommodation we met for drinks and nibbles at the Croquet Club, a real buzz meeting everyone. It was good to hear the plans for the weekend and that even if you didn’t know anybody, it would be easy to join in with others or just have some time on your own to paint. After, a casual dinner at The Grand Hotel went down very well.

Saturday dawned very misty and damp but all found sheltered or indoor places to paint. The stunning moody skies and the boats sparkling on the water when the sun peeped through were amazing, great for wet-in-wet washes. That night we had a wonderful meal at the Ma Maison Restaurant, one long table for us all, which
was quite special.

Sunday, and the Pumphouse Gallery opened their doors for us to paint inside if necessary, and also hosted our ‘show and tell’ at night. It was great fun to see what everyone had painted in two days, to hear their experiences and their ups and downs of watercolours.

Painting away, out of your comfort zone, is a great adventure and as an extra bonus we were very privileged to have renowned watercolourist Nancy Tichborne in Akaroa. Nancy and Bryan moved to
the village four years ago and have established a charming cottage and working Art Gallery for Nancy to paint and Bryan to manage the business of signed prints and books etc for sale. It was wonderful to hear of their travels and having Nancy passing on technical gems of her expertise.

Thank you members of Watercolour NZ for all the work in planning the four days away, I can’t wait for the next one!

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SPRING SAFARI TO NAPIER 21-25 September 2018

Watercolour New Zealand painting safari to Napier - a long weekend to paint, enjoy the scenery and each other’s company, glorious days painting the Tukituki river and Te Mata peak from a perfect location.


What a great way to get back into painting. Years have passed since I’ve been on a safari and experienced the exhilaration of painting ‘en plein air’ in new surroundings. Reuniting with old friends and making new acquaintances, 22 enthusiastic people gathered in Napier full of anticipation and excitement. Joining the crew from Wellington were couples from Auckland and Blenheim, a lady from Dannevirke and local artists.

An overcast sky greeted us on the first day as we headed to the marina. Everyone dispersed to decide what to paint. For me it was the lone fisherman on the quayside and the fishing boats at the wharf. The sun emerged and in the afternoon we moved on to sketch old houses on Bluff Hill. Regrouping for an evening show and tell and a drink back at camp, we marvelled at the diversity of work completed. Dinner was at a local restaurant, ‘The Thirsty Whale’ and we enjoyed a sumptuous meal, getting to know one another and sharing yarns.

The following day, thanks to local artist Richard Moorhead, we were lucky to be invited to paint at a Lodge overlooking the Tuki Tuki River valley, a magnificent location with all facilities. It can be a daunting task to capture a vast landscape on a blank sheet of paper but come lunchtime some vibrant paintings had been accomplished.

Our meal that evening was gallantly prepared by Jan Jeffery, a mammoth effort, much appreciated by the troops. The day’s masterpieces adorned the walls including great renditions of Te Mata Peak and the river valley.

Monday dawned bright and sunny and we headed out in search of our own piece of Napier. For some it was the beautiful spring blossom trees, a sight to behold, and for others it was the iconic art deco buildings. My morning’s subject was the rolling hillside of the Esk Valley. That evening we gathered around the table for a last meal, reminiscing about another successful Watercolour New Zealand safari.



11–14 May 2018

Beating Drizzle

Report by SUE WILD

It defies logic! 18 artists gathered for three days of painting in the great outdoors. The clouds drizzled all day, all night. The 18 artists still had a great time. How could that be?

Fortunately the rain fell vertically - there was no wind. Light drizzle can add texture without totally obliterating colour. Necessity is the mother of invention. You could paint under the back flap of your car or push your umbrella handle down the front of your jacket and crouch under its shelter. You could dry your first wash under the car dashboard with the heater on full or follow Brian Baxter’s crazy example and use a gas-fired blow torch!

You could use a tablet, iPad or even a phone to paint from reference photos snapped en route to Kaikoura, or get fast prints from the local Paper Plus.

But most importantly to our enjoyment, the folk of the Kaikoura Art Society were incredibly welcoming and generous. On arrival we gathered in a local hall, where tables were laid with white cloths and bowls of flowers
and a feast of delicious homemade treats was served by Wendy Smith, Kathy O’Loughlin and their friends.

President Larry Field organised with the Kaikōura Primary School for us to use their hall in adverse weather,
which meant all three days. The principal was most enthusiastic about our presence. It fitted with the current school theme of Adventures in Colour and groups of children came through to see artists at work and appreciate
the growing gallery of paintings.

Our people came from Ashburton in the south to Dannevirke in the north and included 80 year old Barbara Jaine, delightful young Chinese immigrant Weihong Jiang and a number of first-time safari-goers. Everyone made new friends and encouragement was the essence of the gathering.

On the last night we were treated to a visit to the home of Larry and Mitsuyo on the peninsula above the town. We were delighted to see Mitsuyo’s unique jewellery pieces and Larry’s impressive astronomical observatory. Larry had produced maps of the area with 22 numbered locations for painting the fabulous Kaikoura sea, rocky shore and mountains. We used only a fraction as the mountains and horizon hid in mist. So, we will return on a future Sunshine Safari!


10–13 November 2017
Spring Art Safari to Tokaanu, a small village in at the south end of Lake Taupo. 20 members enjoyed four days of shared painting, exploring and laughs.

Tokaanu is situated in a pleasant quiet spot. There is plenty to paint: steaming mineral pools and sputtering mud pools dotted along a native bush walk, a jetty, moored boats, historic church and more – all waiting to be captured in watercolour.

Twenty members gathered recently in the village of Tokaanu for a happy weekend of painting and laughter. People came from all across the North Island to rekindle old friendships and make new ones. The weather obliged. The Tokaanu area offers a good variety of painting subjects from spectacular views to close nature encounters. There were artists on mountain sides, in river beds, along jetties and under bridges. The challenging subject of the safari was painting the beautiful golds and viridians of thermal pools and the chocolate brown of bubbling mud while sulphur-flavoured steam wafted over you.

Many a brush, and even a camera, was mislaid amid the keen focus. Albie McCabe received the WNZ
Wally Award for worst brush loss ... and retrieval. We impressed ourselves with a display of wonderful paintings and share some here. The safari was completed with a delicious meal en plein air cooked by Jan Jeffery.

Safari Watercolour New Zealand
See photos on flickr .


10–12 MARCH 2017
Flock Hill is a 90-minute drive west from Christchurch into the foothills of the alps. Our safari was great fun for all, with gentle drizzle adding atmosphere to our paintings. Report in the next newsletter.

Shaken, not stirred!

Safari to Reefton November 2016

by Sue Wild

If you are woken from deep sleep by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake centred less than 100 kms from your bed, the Old Nurses Home Guesthouse in Reefton is the perfect place to be. Opened in 1949 by Mabel Howard MP, it is a solid timber building that survived the nearby Inangahua earthquake and knows how to stand strong. We sixteen soft watercolour artists were shepherded outside by a fellow occupant, Mitch, trained by the New Zealand Army. He and his troop kindly made copious cups of tea for blanket-wrapped, wide-eyed folk, calmed us and saw us back to bed.

This unusual experience added to three days of memorable outdoor painting, most of it in sunshine. The area is an artist’s paradise. At every ten metres, there’s a subject begging to be painted: wafting misty clouds casting challenging shadows on the purple hills; dozens of picturesque buildings in various states of repair dating from as far back as the 1870’s when the town mushroomed on discoveries of gold and coal; the river and side creeks, native bush and rhododendron - colourful gardens; rusting machinery of all descriptions and even bearded locals willing to be portrayed. We could have painted for a month and still had a rich fund of new material.

We were delighted to have the company of new member Heather Plowman from Nelson and her daughter, Shannon, visiting from Cambodia, Leonie Avery who joined us from Westport, and Adrienne Pavelka and her friend from Lyttleton. Thanks to Jan Jeffery for creating delicious food for our expanding group. Thanks to everyone for delightful company and a wonderful trip.

If you are wishing you had come, consider joining the next Safari to Flock Hill in the Canterbury alpine hills.

Reefton by Robyn Eastgate-Manning

Spring Safari to Reefton 2016

Friday 11 to Tuesday 15 November 2016.

Spend a long weekend with fellow artists, painting outdoors and socialising in the lovely old town of Reefton. Make new friends. Reefton is a small town about 80 km northeast of Greymouth, in the valley of the Inangahua River, with a population of about 1000 and an array of historic buildings and local characters.

As we have a ferry crossing and four hour drive to Reefton, we will want to stay three days. We’ll share rental van/s, or take your own car. Those who work may wish to fly to Nelson and hire a car.

We’ll stay in “The Old Nurses Home”, a pleasant guesthouse. For this safari we’ll eat out one night and cook our own shared dinners on others. On Monday afternoon, we’ll hold a small exhibition of our watercolours, before heading home on Tuesday. Partners and friends are welcome.

For further information on the Safari, email bookings@watercolournewzealand.co.nz

Painting at Flock Hill

At Queen’s Birthday weekend a group of intrepid artists, most of them members of Watercolour New Zealand, made their annual pilgrimage to Flock Hill to paint the Canterbury high country. Chris Parsons took this photo of Bernadette Parsons, Claire Forbes, Jane Smith, Adrienne Pavelka and Biddy Karston trying to decide what part of an almost 360 degree panorama to paint.

From North to South was the Waimakariri River. Below them from east to west were Mt White, the homestead and the Hawden River. Glorious, still weather for all 3 days of the holiday weekend and some fabulous paintings, including Bernadette Parsons’ watercolour of Arthur’s Pass, painted on location in about an hour on a cold but clear day.

Autumn Safari 2016

Dates: Friday 22 April to Monday 25 April 2016 (ANZAC Weekend)
Venue: The Community Centre at Akitio Beach, east of Eketahuna.

Spend a weekend with fellow-artists, painting outdoors and socialising over a drink and meal. Make new friends.

As Akitio is about four hours’ drive from Wellington we will want to stay three days, so we’ve chosen Anzac weekend. The venue is the Community Centre at Akitio Beach, on the coast east of Eketahuna, with bunk accommodation in dormitories.

We will arrive at any time during Friday or Saturday. For this safari we will be making our own shared dinners and cleaning up, so everyone will contribute and assist. On Monday afternoon, we’ll hold a ‘show & tell’ of our watercolours, before heading home. Partners and friends are welcome. We will plan to share cars.


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