On the surface, New Zealand seems beautiful, but normal. It has national parks, farmland, towns and cities full of people going about every day business. Even the tourist track is filled with hikes, boat trips and museums -nothing too unusual or out of the ordinary. However, with a closer look, it won’t take long to realize that this country has got some pretty strange attractions hidden away. If you want to experience something truly different on your next NZ vacation, check out some of these unusual attractions.
If you’re driving along the Southern Scenic route, you will eventually find yourself driving through the town of Owaka. Here is where local resident and tea pot collector, Graham Renwick has decided to show off his collection to the public. After finding a tea pot in his yard over ten years ago, Graham decided to start collecting, creating a unique and low maintenance garden. With over a thousand tea pots taking up his front lawn, it’s hard to miss and is gives road trippers something interesting to check out along their journey.
Also along the Southern Scenic route, this gallery is the definition of unique. Unlike any other gallery in the country, it consists of one repurposed caravan and a theater full of mechanical art, gadgets and hand-made creations. Located in Papatowai, the gallery is the brain child of Blaire Sommerville, artist and inventor. All of his creations are made out of recycled “junk” and are both interactive and artistic. Learning at a young age that he didn’t need much in the ways of money or possessions to be happy, Blaire began collecting odds and ends and spending countless hours turning them into creations that bring both joy and inspiration to the people lucky enough to experience them.
Located in the downtown city of Nelson, this café is extremely easy to miss. Actually, Elf Café isn’t even its real name because its sign outside is written in the Elvish language. Squashed between two other stores, the entrance to this establishment doesn’t look too inviting. However, if you’re curious and take a peak, you will see the opening to the store filled with giant trees equipped with trap doors, hand-made soaps and woodland decorations. It’s not until you wander through to the back of the store that you will find a café with a resemblance to the Shire from the Lord of The Rings. They serve herbal teas and coffee drinks that you can sit and enjoy while surrounded by hobbit doors and fairies.
L&P (Lemon and Paeroa) is a lemon soda drink that is extremely popular around New Zealand. You can find it in every store and on tap at many restaurants. Even Whittakers, a popular NZ chocolate company, makes an L&P flavored white chocolate bar. Getting its name from the town where it was created, Paeroa, the drink is something to be proud of for local residents. They are so proud of it in fact that they erected the world’s largest L&P bottle outside of the one and only L&P café. Take a detour to check out this road side attraction and grab yourself a glass bottle of the drink and a L&P flavored ice cream for dessert.
The Terrace Walk at Franz Josef
While Franz Josef is typically visited for its glacier, it has another hidden gem that people often miss. The Terrace Walk is located right downtown but begins at the dead end of a residential road. The walk will take you into the woods and eventually land you at the opening of a man-made tunnel into the side of the mountain. Those who are brave enough to handle the small space, cold water and dark can head inside the cave for about five minutes to get a free look at some of NZ’s famous glowworms. Bring a flashlight but make sure to turn it off once you are well inside the cave in order to see the worms.
The beach town of Hokitika has a whole lot going on and its artsy vibe is really hard to miss. The best attraction in the city though is a visit to the beach. It’s notorious for the bundles of drift wood that end up on shore and locals have used their creativity to put it to good use. A walk along this beach is not only beautiful but filled with interesting drift wood art to check out too.
A trip to the Bay of Islands area of NZ is not complete without a stop at these famous toilets. Commissioned by the town, the European artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser constructed these beautiful public toilets made from recycled materials and glass. Even after his death in 2000, people still come from all over the country and the world to see them.