How many of New Zealand's big roadside objects have you passed? Sarah Pollok makes a big deal out of these local landmarks
When it comes to celebrating our love of something, it seems we Kiwis love building a big old sculpture of it. So, if seeing an enormous avocado or towering takahe, gigantic carrot or huge human hand has been on your bucket list, you're in the right country. Sometimes wonderful, often weird, here are some of New Zealand's quirkiest landmarks.
Ohakune's Big Carrot
As it turns out, the roots of this beloved landmark were commercial, with the giant carrot created for an ANZ TV commercial in the 80s. Done with filming and unsure what to do with a 7.5-meter-tall vegetable, the producers donated it to the town of Ohakune, where it was embraced as the city's mascot, beloved by tourists and locals alike.
Paeroa's L&P Bottle
The jewel in the crown that is cheesy Kiwi landmarks, the giant L&P bottle has graced the main street of Paeroa since 1969. However, what many may not know is that the initial structure in 1967 was painted as a rocket to celebrate men being sent to the moon. It was repainted the following year as a bottle, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Alexandra's Clock on the Hill
Does anyone have the time? Well, in the town of Alexandra, one only needs to look to the town clock. Perched on the Knobby Range hills, the 11m-tall clock first started telling the time on December 15, 1968. However, time did pause on March 26 this year when the country entered lockdown. It restarted on April 28 at the end of lockdown, supposedly to signify a period when it seemed time stood still.
For the smashed-avo-loving millennials, Katikati's quirky landmark is sure to be a hit. Located in the heart of New Zealand's avocado capital, the sculpture was carved from a tōtara tree and donated by the Darling family who own Just Avocados Ltd. However, with the city set to host the World Avocado Congress (yes that's a thing) in 2023, this sculpture is just the beginning of an avo-takeover, with themed playgrounds and art installations in the works.
Manaia's Big Loaf
Combine Katikati's landmark with the one found in Manaia and you're set for a perfect weekend brunch. That's right, 120km south, in the bread capital of New Zealand, you'll find the "Big Loaf". A delightfully doughy sculpture, it was donated to the town by Yarrow's Bakery in celebration of our favourite carb.
Taupō's Giant Bicycle
In case you missed the fact that Taupō is a cycling mecca, no sweat, they've got a 3m, 300kg reminder at the entrance to the region. Designed by artist Marcel Zwezerijnen in 2012 (in a polka-dot pattern that any cycling aficionado will recognise) the sculpture reminds drivers to keep an eye out for the packs of riders who rule these parts.
Stoke's Pics Peanut Butter Jar
Peanut butter lovers rejoice, the good folk at Pics have marked their love of the stuff with a gigantic sculpture outside Pics Peanut Butter World in Stoke. Follow up a photo with a free guided tour of the factory in action, where you can make your own personal jar of peanut butter!
Never one to follow status quo, it's no surprise Wellington's notable landmark isn't a cliche jandal or kiwifruit, but an anthropomorphised, genderless hand. Designed by Melbourne artist Ronnie van Hout, the 5m-tall hand, sporting a perpetual look of judgment, has both intrigued and terrified locals of the Windy City. Catch it before 2023 when its three-year residency at the top of the City Gallery comes to a close.
Te Anau's Takahē
Is it a pukeko? A big blue chicken? Nope, it's Te Anau's takahē! Mistakenly declared extinct until 1948, we made amends to New Zealand's native bird with extensive recovery efforts and a large statue. Meanwhile, you can now see more than 400 pairs of real-life takahē at Te Anau Bird Park.
Ōakura's Big Surfboard
Dozens of New Zealand beaches have top-notch surf, but not all of them can claim to have the world's biggest surfboard. Found at Ōakura, on the 105km Surf Highway 45, the giant board is 155 years old and currently resides on the main street next to Butler's Reef Hotel.
New Plymouth's Big Wave
Now you're set with a surfboard, head to the biggest wave in NZ, the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge. Stretching 83m across the Waiwhakaiho River, the pedestrian and cycleway bridge was designed to mimic the form of a breaking wave or whale skeleton.
Hāwera's Big Cow
What better way to celebrate New Zealand's prosperous dairy industry than with a giant cow? Larger-than-life, "Olive" has guarded the intersection of SH3 and Whareroa Rd beside Fonterra's large Whareroa plant for more than 25 years.
Pātea's Aotea Waka
All aboard the waka - there's room for everyone in Pātea's beautiful landmark. Nearly 17m long and 1.5m wide, the Aotea Waka Memorial was built in 1933 to commemorate the settling of the Pātea area by Turi and his hapū. It reached peak fame after featuring in the video for beloved Kiwi tune, 'Poi E' by the Pātea' Māori Club.
New Plymouth's Wind Wand
Like Paris' Eiffel Tower, New Plymouth's iconic landmark initially met with passionate distaste, with locals complaining about the $300,000 price tag and unusual design. Yet, some 20 years later, the Wind Wand has become the region's most iconic feature. Designed by artist Len Lye, the Wind Wand weighs in at 900kg, stands 45m tall, and most notably, can bend and curve at least 20m when the coastal winds pick up.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com