Kia ora: Bulls

Elisabeth Easther enjoys the puns and good humour in a small town like no udder.

The sign at Frankies Ice Cream Parlour in the Rangitikei town of Bulls.
The sign at Frankies Ice Cream Parlour in the Rangitikei town of Bulls.

Where is it: In the Rangitikei District, 25 minutes from Palmerston North, or 160km north of Wellington.

Origin of name: Named after James Bull, town founder and owner of the first general store. Originally called Bull Town, then Clifton, then named Bulls due to the insistence of Sir William Fox, New Zealand's second Premier.

Population: 1750 (urban) or 3000 (including rural areas).

Town slogan: Herd of bulls? It's a town like no udder.

Town mascot: A giant wooden bull named James, after the town's founder.

Punny: The town thrives on bullish puns. Outside the police station is a sign saying "Const-a-Bull", the Anglican Church has "Forgive-a-Bull" and the medical centre has "Cure-a-Bull".

Cute: Bulls' sister city is the English seaport town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

Fancy this: It's the only place in the world you can get milk from Bulls.

Danger zone: New Zealand's first armed robbery took place at the Bulls BNZ in 1946.

Famous locals: Formula 1 racing driver Chris Amon, Pete and Andy from The Block, and internet millionaire Victoria Ransom.

Infamous local #1: Lyndon Tamblyn, the man behind the sauce company What a Load of Bull. Fancy some Bullshit Worcester Sauce or a dash of Calf Custard Mustard? How about a chunk of Han-a-Bull beef jerky washed down with a cup of Bull Rush coffee?

Infamous local #2: Doctor Dave, the flying doctor who fronts the Healthy Bastards campaign. He posts a video on YouTube most weeks on ailments ranging from athletes' foot to dandruff to haemorrhoids.

Best website: or check out Bulls' Facebook page.

'The Block NZ' stars<BR>Pete and Andy are from Bulls.
'The Block NZ' stars
Pete and Andy are from Bulls.

Biggest employer: Farming, freezing works and the Ohakea Air Force Base.

Wing-dings: Wearabull Arts. Matariki is big here, too.

Best reason to stop: The signs are a hoot.

Best place to take the kids: Bulls Domain has a big playground, a skate park, picnic areas and tennis and netball courts. There's lots of grass, a walkway and it's nice and sheltered. The Domain even has a grass cycle track.

Best place to get a drink: Rangitikei Golf Club - summer or winter, the views are stunning, the prices are good and the food is delicious.

Best food: The Rat Hole - large meals, value for money and you can help yourself to the amazing salads. There's also a great Indian place, quality fish and chips and Jabie's Doner Kebabs has legions of fans.

Best flat white: Mothered Goose Cafe, Deli, Vino! in the old BNZ building. Try the citrus slice while you're there, it's delect-a-bull.

Best bakery: Bulls Bakery - some people say they do the best pies in New Zealand, with people coming from all over the country to enjoy them.

Best museum: Bulls Museum. There's a Chris Amon display on at the moment, and a marvellous mounted rifles exhibit about World War I. Beth, a horse who went to war and came back, is buried up there and every Anzac Day there's a service for her, and everyone rides their horses to it. Incredibly moving.

Art gallery: Artifacts Gallery sells local art, gifts and antiques. There's a great mural of American Gothic on the exterior wall, featuring bulls' heads instead of humans'.

Best walk: The river walk takes about 45 minutes and includes the Domain, some of the township and offers beautiful views across the river.

Best view: From the top of Domain Hill, out over the marae across to the river. It puts everything in perspective.

Best swim: Moana Roa, the beach at Scotts Ferry. Every house in this little village has a sign with "Inn" on it, like Do Duck Inn.

Best mountain biking: Through Santoft Forest, which has just opened to mountain bikers and is proving very popular.

Best adventure: Speed down Domain Hill on a go-kart or skateboard, or go jet boating on the Rangitikei River.

Best place to pull over: Rangitikei River, on SH1 by the bridge. Drive under the bridge and enjoy the picnic area up on the platform with native bush and trees all around.

Best facilities: The public lavatories here boast that they're Relieve-a-Bull, and there are plans for flash new loos shaped like a bull's rear end.

Here for a short time? The information centre points to all things bull.

Wildlife: Bulls, of course.

When a local has visitors staying: They take them to look at the Ohakea Air Base where you might see massive American and Australian planes flying over. Time it right and you can watch the acrobatic teams practising.

Safety warnings: Don't "plank" the bull. Local youngsters have tried this and it doesn't always end well - see Bulls' Facebook page to witness a 3am planking malfunction.

Locals say: Bet you want to moove here.

Visitors say: Unbelieve-a-Bull signs.

Thanks to Bronwyn Meads, the Bulls District co-ordinator.

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