By Bridget Rutherford

A bare bottom hippo, a sewage plant photo shoot, and a dog that had wandered into the local pub.

Although the majority of calls the Christchurch City Council's 24/7 contact centre receives relate to rates, planning, wheelie bins and building consents, it can field some odd ones too.

Some people want help - even if it is out of the city council's jurisdiction - others have strange requests, while some just want to express their opinion.


One woman rang to complain about the red hippopotamus sculpture next to the children's playground at the Botanic Gardens, asking what a hippo had to do with New Zealand.

She also said it should be wearing clothes as "children shouldn't see a bare bottom hippo".

Another woman rang requesting the animal management team come to her home immediately to assess a paw print she found in her garden.

One caller asked if a city council employee could come inspect their log burner door to see why it would not close properly, while in 2015, someone contacted saying: "I am calling as I had a two hour wait at the doctor and what are you going to do about it?"

Meanwhile, the contact centre was able to reunite a man with his lost dog after it wandered into a pub.

One of the more unusual calls included a man calling to ask why his toilet water was brown - after he had done his business.

Just in case, he told staff he had "taken a sample".

In 2015, a man asked how he could gain access to Bromley's sewage treatment plant so he and a friend could dress in formal attire so one could "serenade" the other.


"We would then have our photos taken for entry into a worldwide scavenger hunt run by actor Misha Collins," he said.

Other people asked how much postage to Kuala Lumpur was, where the city council got its curtains, and how many men there were in the stretch release class on Tuesday at 10.30am.

The city council says in spite of the strange requests, the team tried to help callers where possible, and many people liked talking to them because they were friendly.

Last year the centre's 100 staff got 521,380 calls, and answered 33,590 emails, as well as social media queries.