Self-proclaimed "international media empire", Sh*t Towns of New Zealand started as a Facebook page. The anonymous authors' scatalogical slagging of pretty much the whole country is now a book. In this exclusive extract, they dump on almost every 'Big Thing' you might spy on a classic Kiwi roadtrip.

Under New Zealand law, for a settlement to officially qualify as a town it must feature a giant replica of a food item, animal or object alongside its nearest highway or main road, mainly so tourists can take photos of themselves pretending to have sex with it. Here are some of New Zealand's worst 'Big Things'.

Te Puke's Big Chinese Gooseberry

Having obsessed over 'kiwifruit' ever since they stole them from the Chinese, the good folk of the aptly named Te Puke decided to erect a giant Chinese gooseberry in the centre of town. Nothing screams 'lack of originality' like a copied concept celebrating a foreign fruit.

Ohakune's Big Carrot

One of New Zealand's most famous 'Big Things', Ohakune's Big Carrot was gifted to the town after being left over from a bank advertisement. The worst thing about the giant phallic ad prop is that it inspired a long list of shit towns to create their own horrendous fruit sculptures, because copying what other shit towns do is the primary function of shit-town councils.

The giant carrot sculpture greeting visitors to Ohakune. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The giant carrot sculpture greeting visitors to Ohakune. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Waitomo's Big Apple

New York is one of the world's great cities, known as the Big Apple. Waitomo is a King Country flyspeck known for having a big hole with some glow-in-the-dark grubs stuck to the ceiling. It's not clear why New Zealand's premier underground tourism attraction pinched New York's shtick, but it's probably because a giant glow-worm would have scared the piss out of passing backpackers.

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Paeroa's Big L&P Bottle

Perhaps the most iconic of New Zealand's 'Big Things', Paeroa's L&P bottle is also the dumbest—it celebrates a product owned by Coca-Cola that is now produced in South Auckland with water from Putaruru. It's understandable that Paeroans would want to celebrate a claim to fame other than rampant teenage pregnancy, but pumping a giant bottle of type 2 diabetes is truly shithouse.

Morrinsville's Mega Cow

The last time a bunch of bovine-worshipping heretics erected a cow statue this big, Moses lost his shit and had them all murdered for their blasphemy. Apparently the general illiteracy in Morrinsville meant the townsfolk have never read the Bible and were happy to repeat this heresy by building a Golden Calf of their own. We can only hope that the Almighty's retribution is swift and bloody.

Bulls' Big Bull

Morrinsville's humungous cow at least looks like one, which can't be said for Bulls' Big Bull. Someone should really tell its designer that animals aren't supposed to have corners or wheels. Perhaps Bulls should stick to what it's good at—making the same old terri-bull pun as many times as humanly possible.

Mosgiel's Big Mosgiel

The Hollywood sign is an iconic landmark known around the world. The Mosgiel sign is a cheap rip-off that serves to remind everyone how dull and pointless the Dunedin satellite is. On the plus side, it does inform Mosgiel's largely illiterate population how to spell the town's name. Mosgiel's shame is slightly diminished by the fact that Wellington decided to rip off the same gimmick with its cringeworthy 'Wellywood' sign.

Tirau's Big Corrugated Iron Things

Not content to deface their town with a single 'Big Thing', the brains trust at South Waikato shithole Tirau have installed a trio of abominations celebrating their unhealthy obsession with corrugated iron. A giant dog-shaped information centre, a wool shop shaped like two giant sheep, and a giant biblical shepherd combine to create a terrifying trifecta of kitschy lameness. No other town has Tirau's ability to make a small child spontaneously burst into tears of terror when passing through.

Taupo, Rakaia and Gore's Big Fish

There's only one thing worse than having a lame 'Big Thing': having a lame 'Big Thing' that's shared with two other towns. That's the predicament facing Taupo, Rakaia and Gore, who have all elected to erect giant statues of leaping fish in their town centres. It's a sad indictment when the one thing intended to celebrate your town's uniqueness turns out to be as common as head lice in Huntly.

Manaia's Big Loaf

Manaia celebrates its claim of 'bread capital' with a giant loaf that looks like it was designed by a blind person who was raised in a well and only had the concept of bread explained to them over the phone. Nothing will make someone jump on the gluten-free bandwagon quite like clamping eyes on Manaia's giant turd of a loaf.

Putaruru's Big Poo

Speaking of big loaves, there are few more appropriate 'Big Things' than Putaruru's Big Poo. Erected in the 1970s to celebrate then-prime minister Robert Muldoon's claim that 'there's no finer place in New Zealand to take a shit than Putaruru', the Big Poo has a fond place in the hearts of many travellers through the central North Island. How could it not make the list of shit 'Big Things'?

Honourable mentions

• Te Kuiti's Big Sheep Shearer
• Taupo's Big Bicycle
• Taihape's Big Gumboot
• Eketahuna and Otorohanga's Big Kiwi
• Cromwell's Big Haemorrhoids

WHAT THE HECK IS SH*T TOWNS?

It started as a casual joke between a couple of mates that was turned into a Facebook page.

That page now has almost 95,000 followers apparently eager for "colourful and comprehensive updates on New Zealand's myriad of crappy towns and shitty cities".

The authors want to remain anonymous - claiming they received a flurry of death threats from a Central Otago town and an elected mayor suggested they be shot.

But claiming the spirit of other true Kiwi pioneers such as Sir Edmund Hillary, Ernest Rutherford and Hairy Maclary, they overcame "humourless grinches" to write a book.

And now, "unburdened by bothersome notions of good taste", they've launched a new Facebook page - Sh*t Towns of Australia, sample quote: "Dubbo is well-known for its open-range zoo, exhibiting such species as lions, critically endangered elephants and rhinos, and the common red-necked wallaby. Dubbo is also well-known as an open-range zoo, exhibiting such species as dole bludgers, juvenile delinquents, critically endangered law-abiding citizens, and the common red-necked Australian." Strewth.

* Sh*t Towns of New Zealand is published by Allen & Unwin and out now.