A nation of unspoilt panoramic scenery, ancient cultures, rugby, hobbits and bored but ingenious nutters.
New Zealand is in the middle of nowhere. Nobody knows where we are, nobody cares where we are, we are a complete global insignificance and that’s the way we like it. One side effect of being in the middle of nowhere, being diligently ignored by everyone, is time. Time to quietly sit in your shed through the long winter nights and think. Very occasionally inspiration will strike! From the midwinter gloom a voice will bellow out in the night, echoing from the dimly lit shed out across the misty fields “I’ve got it! What this town needs is a really massive ………………”.
New Zealand has a bewildering number of ridiculous landmarks. Every tiny town seems to have one. Every council wants the biggest/smallest/tallest/widest something in the World/Southern hemisphere/Australasia/this far South of Turangi.
We (HandMadeMummy and NerdDad) will start our top 10 countdown with some honourable mentions. We wouldn’t want to leave anybody out, and someone unstable enough to spend all their spare time making oversized fruit out of fibreglass probably shouldn’t be trifled with! (Boom! Boom!)
Tirau’s (tee-rao) corrugated iron sheep and sheepdog (the inspiration for this post, seen on a previous Top 10 post) are a visitor centre and gift shop. It is probably the only place you can walk up a sheep’s bum and buy a coffee. Although Tirau is fantastic with heaps of strange corrugated iron creations, including the eyeball, Top 10 has been there and done that so we didn’t include it.
Other honourable mentions go to Taupo’s fish, Rotorua’s Agrodome sheep and Te Anau Takahe, Waitomo Apple and the Geraldine Jumper.
But now onto the Top 10 (Dumroll Please)
NUMBER 10 – The Turangi (Too-rang-ee) Fisherman
Turangi is the self styled Trout fishing capital of the World. At the bottom of beautiful Lake Taupo and the entrance to the atmospheric volcanic central plateau it has a bit of tough time standing out so you can’t blame it for blowing its own trumpet. In order to remind people driving through the town just how good the fishing is here they erected a giant silhouette of a fisherman, I wonder how many people it has persuaded to stop and try their luck.
NUMBER 9 – Te Puke (Teh Poo-Kee) Kiwifruit
Te Puke is in the centre of kiwi fruit country and so it was fitting that some bright spark decided to open a kiwi fruit themed tourist attraction. You can take a tour of the kiwi fruit vines in the kiwi fruit shaped golf cart train, buy kiwi fruit themed products from the gift shop, eat kiwi fruit in the cafe and at the end of your visit you can climb the massive kiwi fruit slice that stands at the entrance. The slice must be at least 20m tall and has a staircase inside it so you can climb up and take in panoramic views of the….erm….kiwi fruit!
NUMBER 8 – Cromwell (Crom-well) Fruit
Cromwell sits in Otago wine making country, all around there are amazing wineries making some of the best Pinot Noir in the World. These wineries sit in some stunning countryside which you can more often than not take in from their restaurants whilst enjoying their amazing wine. However someone in Cromwell decided that this beautiful scenery and award winning wine wasn’t enough to attract people to the area, they needed something else. Giant fruit were the answer.
NUMBER 7 – The Gore Brown Trout
Gore. The name says it all. Buried in the depths of Southland Gore is a town that services the large rural community around it. It does however have a very handsome brown trout that has recently been repainted at great cost.
Nobody knows much about Gore really, that is we don’t know much about it because, unlike the other astounding constructions, we haven’t actually visited this one. We kept it in because we felt there was a place in the top 10 for a random mahoooosive fish.
NUMBER 6 – Te Kuiti (teh-kwitty) Sheep Shearer
Te Kuiti is the self-styled “sheep shearing capital of the world”. Like a wooly Pamplona, each year Te Kuiti runs sheep through the centre of town. The animal rights guys think it’s baaaaabaric but how can you object to such a ewemungous event? The highlight of the Te Kuiti year, if not the whole Southern Hemisphere year, is the New Zealand Shearing Championships. This statue commemorates this and serves as a monument to all the stubby and black wool singlet wearing men toiling in shearing sheds nationwide. He is reputed to be the world’s largest shearer at 6m high.
NUMBER 5 – Taihape (Tie-Happy) Gum Boot
Taihape is wet. Very Wet. Situated roughly in the middle of the North Island, South of the ski fields, it’s a small country town with country interests. Farming, hunting, fishing, the great outdoors …. all of which are miserable with a leaky gumboot. Gumbots are of paramount importance in Taihape, they even have an annual gumboot festival and a song about it. All hail the Taihaope Gumboot.
NUMBER 4 – Otorohanga (oh-Toe-Row-hong-a) Kiwi
OK, so a massive national icon isn’t that strange we suppose. This one however has a flag on his bum and had an all blacks jersey for the world cup. Otorohanga is the self styled Kiwiana town and has displays of Kiwi items all over the place, all six buildings, including a rather fetching Kiwiana walkway that has cabinets that tell you stories about New Zealand. Nobody listens to the stories they just press every button, play every story and tune simultaneously leaving the brain wrenching cacphony for the next unwitting tourist that passes by. Otorohanga is a fantastic little town, if you want to understand New Zelanad culture just take a wander around; you’ll learn more here about New Zealanders and how they think over lunch and a stroll than you will in five hours at a museum (oh and make sure you visit the Haddad’s shop, it’s a tourist attraction in its own rite).
NUMBER 3 – Paeroa (Pie-row-ah) L&P Bottle
L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) is New Zealand’s answer to Cocacola. It is “World Famous in New Zealand since ages ago” and a national treasure. Some ingenious Kiwi guys in the 1940s flavoured the local mineral water with lemon and an icon was born!
NUMBER 2 – Manaia (Man-eye-ah) Loaf
What do you do if you are a small town whose main employer is a bakery? You have a giant fibre glass loaf of bread made to welcome people to the town of course. They have been making bread in Manaia for over 100 years so it is a pretty important industry to the town. Unfortunately the giant bakery has gone into receivership so the loaf now stand as a reminder of times gone by and gives passing tourists a chance to add to their “photo with a crazy fibreglass sculpture” collection.
THE MAGNIFICENT NUMBER 1 – Ohakune (oh-ha-koo-knee) Carrot
To us the carrot is a glorious sight as it means fun on the snow is about to begin. Ohakune is a ski town being the gateway to the Turoa skifield on Mount Ruapehu (a live volcano, how rock and roll is that!). It is also in the middle of veggie growing country, hence the carrot. It was originally used in an ANZ Bank advertisement but was given to the town afterwards to recognise the fact that the majority of carrots grown in New Zealand come from here. The towns people were delighted and erected the carrot on the edge of town so everyone would know that Ohakune is built from carrots. It is a patriotic carrot too, turning black to support the All Blacks in the 2011 World Cup, I’m sure the team felt much happier knowing the carrot had their backs!
So that concludes our guest Top 10 for Russell’s blog. There is much more to see in New Zealand, come and visit us some time! As they say here it’s CHOICE!