In the heart of Wellington's city centre there is a fountain. It is an unusual fountain. Not as grand as Auckland's brilliant art deco fountain in Mission Bay, which gloriously shoots water into the air from its towering centerpiece and the mouths of the three sea creatures guarding it.
Nor is it as delightful as Christchurch's Peacock Fountain, whose gaudy presence radiates in the Botanical Gardens and spurts water from more escape holes than altogether necessary.
In fact you'd be hard pressed to name a public fountain in New Zealand that impressed less than Wellington's Bucket Fountain.
It's truly an eyesore of a thing that clatters and thunks and doesn't really work properly.
Yet despite - or perhaps because of - these facts it is without a doubt the most famous fountain in New Zealand. It's been immortalised on TV sitcoms, talked about on American chat shows and offered a humorous photo op for countless tourists to snap a clowning photo in between all the splendour and magnificence of our country's natural beauty.
But honestly, it's just a bit naff isn't it? Can something "a bit naff" also be "iconic"? Maybe that very naffness is what makes it iconic. Or, maybe, it's just duration. Whatever it is, Wellington's Bucket Fountain is all of those things. Old. Naff. Iconic.
The bucket fountain was erected in 1969 and almost immediately instigated a downpour of controversy. On the eve of its 50th anniversary its own architect Graham Allardice said, "I didn't think people would want it to be there for that long and it was never built of materials intended to last that long."
"We knew that a lot of people would hate it," he admitted, "but hopefully some people would like it and that proved to be the case."
While we call it a fountain it is, actually, a "kinetic sculpture". It's made up of a series of buckets that gradually fill with water causing them to tip over and spill into the bucket beneath.
The fountain's Wikipedia page accurately states, "Much of the water does not reach the buckets below, but instead splashes on to pedestrians and onlookers. On windy days (common in Wellington) water is carried several metres from the fountain".
Nevertheless, it persists. Bic Runga starred alongside it in a music video. Jemaine Clement made it world famous by lovingly turning it into a portal to hell on his spooky sitcom Wellington Paranormal. A hobbit pissed in it. Yes.
Elijah Wood, star of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, a series so successful the country is still branded by it 19 years on, guested on one of America's biggest chat shows, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and verbally pissed all over it.
"The fountain was a point of particular frustration for myself," he told Leno, saying that the source of his ire was its "poor engineering," as noted in the aforementioned Wiki entry.
"It doesn't actually work," he bleated to America before regaling viewers with the dark tale of the drunken night when that pent up frustration materialised itself as he stumbled home from a bar with his fellow LoTR stars.
"I look at it and went, 'that thing is rubbish! Let's climb it!'," he told an amused Leno. "Once we got to the top, what else is there to do... but urinate in it and really show our disgust."
It is not the only indignity the fountain has suffered. Cheeky wags regularly fill it with detergent causing it to spew bubbles onto the pavement for hours. Someone once caked the whole thing in clay. Four years ago some wag stole one of the buckets, only to return it to the scene of the crime a few days later resplendent with a new psychedelic, multi-coloured paint job.
Reporting on the theft Newstalk ZB claimed the artistic overhaul had caused the Wellington council to face an "existential dilemma".
"The question has to be 'if we allow one bucket to be painted with a trippy paint scheme, does that mean that it's open season on the rest of the buckets'?" mused the alarmed Council spokesman Richard McLean.
Regardless, the fact remains that no trip to Wellington is complete without seeing the thing. Partly because of its prime location on Cuba St that makes avoiding it difficult, but also just because, that's what you do as a visitor to Wellington.
As such, we wholeheartedly implore you to see it. And unlike old Frodo we are not taking the piss.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com