We look at spots made famous by some classic Kiwi landmarks.

It's said to be world famous in New Zealand yet Paeroa's most famous export leads a lonely and forgotten existence.

You won't find the mineral water spring that people once turned to for what was believed to be a tonic for hangovers on the historic places trail.

It's not signposted or easily visible — in fact we aren't even sure we saw it — despite the best efforts of locals to point us to it on the outskirts of Paeroa near the Waihou River.

"It's on a farmer's land just down there on that metal road," says a helpful Maori man who lives nearby. He adds the drink is no longer brewed in Paeroa but at "an eternal spring in Auckland, bro".


Linda Harding who owns the L&P cafe as well as the information site next to the bustling little eatery says there is a mystique around Paeroa's famous beverage, including the town's best-kept secret — she believes no one actually knows who came up with the idea for Lemon & Paeroa, which is now more than 100 years old.

"It was some amazing local person who just added lemon to it."

L&P hasn't been bottled in the town since the 1980s and it's now owned and made by Coca-Cola Amatil in Auckland.

Not that this has done any harm to the town, whose drink has been the subject of T-shirts, posters, numerous TV ads, a stamp issue and a marketing prank that landed its protagonists in trouble with the law after a van apparently crashed into the giant bottle.

"Everyone knows about it," said Ms Harding.

The town is typical of rural New Zealand — you could walk the length of its CBD in about 20 minutes — and when a young person is asked what there is to do in the town for youth the answer is: "not much really".

When Jo Tilsley of Positive Paeroa says her town has a "huge population of the elderly" it fuels the impression that not much goes on apart from people stopping to get a pie on their way to Waihi or the Coromandel — but she says things in the Hauraki township, population 3990, "are different now", particularly since the Hauraki Rail Trail opened bringing in a flood of visitors.

And it was judged community of the year 2012.

Paeroa, which hosts the annual battle of the streets and the Highland Games and Tattoo, is also known as the Antique Town of NZ with nine stores selling goods from yesteryear and several op shops and retro stores.

Vivien Leonard, who owns one of the biggest antique stores, Arkwright's, says "people from all over the place" bring their stuff to her store.

"I've been here 21 years — including 16 in this shop. It's a very, very busy place — and it's ... a bit of a destination [now]."

Planning a visit to Paeroa? Check out our Travel archive for more ideas on what to see and do in the area.

Five things about Paeroa

1. Icon:

7.5m tall Lemon & Paeroa bottle.

2. Population: 3888.

3. Distance from Auckland: 122.1km.

4. Hometown of: Former Silver Ferns netball coach Ruth Aitken, former Warrior Kevin Locke's grandmother.

4. Did you know: The giant model bottle used to be in the middle of the main street in the late 1960s but had to be moved to where it is now because it was deemed a traffic hazard. The spring where the L&P drink first came from was believed to be a cure for hangovers.