Hokitika’s annual Driftwood & Sand beach sculpture festival is once again set to wow locals and visitors with its wild untamed works of art this January. The good news is that there is no shortage of beach materials for artists to work with.

Hokitika Beach will soon be transformed into a stunning outdoor art gallery for wild, innovative, nature-inspired artworks made from driftwood, sand, and other beach materials.

The Driftwood & Sand Festival, now in its 18th year, is a summer celebration of art and will be held from Wednesday 27 to Sunday 31 January 2021. Budding artists of all ages work side by side with professionals turning driftwood and other materials they find on the beach into sculptural pieces. Previous driftwood-inspired creations have been as diverse as running giants, huge eagles, stone pyramids and an enormous driftwood tap.

Residents can start planning and creating their sculptures any time and transport them to the site for the festival. ‘Work in Progress’ signs will be available from various points on the beach in the lead-up to the event.

There are plenty of prizes to be won in a range of categories, all kindly sponsored by local businesses. Prizegiving will be at 2pm on Sunday 31 January.

Children who enter a sculpture will have a chance to win a special junior category chosen by the guest judges. There will also be a return of ‘Hoki Zoo’, an area where kids and adults can create mini sculptures of animals – real or imagined, from driftwood, and any other flotsam and jetsam they can find.

Organisers are pleased to welcome the guest artists for 2021, Wendy Burton and Steve Trevella, a couple who are no strangers to Driftwood & Sand and have been valued participants and award winners in past years. Wendy is well known as the creator of many art costumes and has been a regular winner in WOW (World of Wearable Art). A versatile artist, her driftwood rendition of the four stages of evolution, won the coveted Driftwood & Sand trophy in 2015. Steve, a props maker with creative genius, was the grand winner in 2016 with a massive diving figure on the seawall held together only by dowels.

Steve and Wendy have a quirky approach to driftwood art, often using humour in the titles of their work. Their first combined work in 2013, titled ‘nothing to wear’ was a line of washing items outlined in driftwood. Besides creating a sculpture on the beach, Steve and Wendy will be taking on the challenging task of judging the 2021 competition.

Festival founder, and internationally renowned sculptor, Donald Buglass, will also be present at the event. Donald usually spends a good part of each year travelling to sculpture symposiums around the world, but due to Covid-19, this has not been possible. His style of sculpture may be different this year as he is recovering from shoulder surgery.

A new initiative started last year is a hands-on demonstration to help entrants create bigger, better and stronger sculptures. The ‘Natural Fixings’ workshop will teach participants how to make rope from flax fibre, and how to secure work using dowels instead of screws

The festival is being run by a keen, but small group of local people and is supported by Westland District Council. Volunteers are always welcome and interested parties are encouraged to contact the organisers for more information.

For more information contact:,

Laura Neale, phone 027 384 2508

or Sue Asplin, ph 021 188 6564