4 of the best: Essential travel stops

Kawakawa's tourist loos have inspired more tiny art houses.

The Redwoods
The Redwoods

1: Paihia
Next to the Salt Air heli pad, waterfront, central Paihia

Along the road, Paihia Phantom Placemaker Projects has transformed an awful drab toilet block into a funky work of art. A collaboration between Focus Paihia and a bunch of local tradesmen and volunteers, the renovated block features a living grass roof, stone-look walls and coloured disco lighting with luxury tile interiors. Kawakawa watch out.

2: Redwoods Forest Visitor Centre
Whakarewarewa, Rotorua

Opened this month, the new Redwood Toilets and Art Installations feature shrouds of Corten Steel with eyecatching cut-outs of endangered native birds. Designed by Waiariki Institute of Technology art tutor Kereama Taepa, the loos add an important environmental education element to a practical facility. Wander along the boardwalk and contemplate the conservation work needed to help preserve endangered species.

3: The "Lobsters"
Synergy Plaza, Kumutoto precinct, Queen's Wharf, Wellington

Studio Pacific Architecture's lobster loos, built for a mere $375,000, was the winning design from 28 entries.The council wanted something sculptural that will be locally and nationally recognised, and the two orange steel-over-concrete "tentacles" should do that (actually, two unisex toilets with wheelchair access). Seafood-themed costumes are not required.

4: Onehunga public toilets

Henderson artist David Vazey, better known for his elegant gates and conservatories, jumped at the chance to overhaul the bog standard loos in Onehunga. Gaudi was a natural inspiration, since the loos were sponsored by the local Spanish community and council's brief was an organic plant theme. Tree of life design for one of life's essential activities, we like that.

- NZ Herald

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