Curious Christchurch – November 2016

Pet friendly Fino Hotel & Suites, 87 Kilmore Street
The newly refurbished Fino Hotel & Suites has two dedicated pet friendly suites for house trained pets under 50kg. They supply a bed, water bowl, and for those taking man’s best friend, a map of local dog parks. See Pet Friendly Suites for more information. (PS. Scenic Hotel Te Pania in Napier is dog friendly too).

Play Pong at the intersection of Lichfield & Colombo Streets (outside the Bus Exchange)
Local company SmartCross are responsible for the devices with touchscreens that are attached to the traffic light poles on Lichfield & … Read the rest

High Tea at Zealong Tea Estate

If the sun’s shining at Zealong Tea Estate near Hamilton it’s nice to sit outside under an umbrella overlooking rows of lush tea plants. Zealong is New Zealand’s only tea plantation and the five flavours of tea produced are certified organic.

Tea is the star of the show at Zealong, but lunch and high tea are also served. A Signature High Tea and a Classic High Tea were on the menu for us. Tea is infused in a lot of the small dishes that make up the high tea, including the aromatic mousse in a chocolate cup, and the black … Read the rest

Yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins

If you see something that looks like a duck in the water at Roaring Bay* in the Catlins, chances are it’s a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. By the time you realise that ducks don’t belong in the sea, the penguin may be upright on its bubble gum pink feet and swaying across the stony shore.

The yellow band that stretches around the top of a hoiho’s head and into its eyes marks it as one of the world’s rarest penguins, and a breed unique to New Zealand. Hoiho translates to ‘the noise shouter’, the name given because of the birds’ … Read the rest

The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai

There are a few uniquely New Zealand experiences you can have for $5 or less – you can hire a spade and dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, visit Weta Cave in Wellington (free), and see all the curious creations at The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowhai, the Catlins (seasonal hours*).

Blair Somerville is the resident ‘organic mechanic’ and creator of The Lost Gypsy Gallery (free entry), and The Winding Thoughts Theatre of Sorts ($5 entry – R13). If you like unusual attractions definitely pull over in Papatowhai, your time and money are well spent here.… Read the rest

Teapot Land in Owaka

I’m not sure there are many towns that have more than three tea pots per head of population, but Owaka in the Catlins area does, its population is around 303. In summer, there are more than 1200 tea pots in the garden at Teapot Land on Main Road.

The owner of Teapot Land is actually a coffee drinker, I’m not sure whether the unusual collection started with a tea pot, a coffee pot, or a kettle, but Teapot Land it is.

Visitors are invited to put a koha (donation) in the kettle and take photos. It seems like everything you … Read the rest

Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore

If ye happen to be travelling through Gore on a dreich day, a wee dram of Old Hokonui, and Hokonui Honey Moonshine is included in the $5 entrance fee to Hokonui Moonshine Museum.

The Museum documents the first distiller in the area as Irish carpenter Owen McShane. In the 1830’s Owen made a potent spirit from cabbage tree sap known by a few names including the brilliant ‘McShane’s Chained Lightning’.

Fond of more than a wee dram, Owen McShane may be the only person ever to build a jail, go out on a bender to celebrate its completion, get arrested, … Read the rest

Tropical Forest at Otago Museum

The temperature can drop below zero during a Dunedin winter but one place you’re guaranteed to keep warm is in the Tropical Forest at Otago Museum. On the day I was there it was a balmy 35.8 degrees celsius with 64% humidity, I can confirm that’s not enough humidity to make your hair frizz.

Butterflies are the main attraction in the Tropical Forest and they arrive in New Zealand in chrysalis form from breeders in Costa Rica and the Philippines. At 11am every day you can see what they call ‘first flight’ which is when the newly emerged butterflies are … Read the rest

Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill

Walking through Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill I overheard someone say to his mate “You could spend a month in here”, “Yeah, I could”, the mate replied. He obviously really likes trucks, I don’t particularly but I’d been at Transport World for two hours and there was still plenty to see.

Bill Richardson was a Southland businessman with a passion for trucks, he bought his first from his grandfather in 1967 – a 1933 International D1. In 1976 his collection of trucks and transport memorabilia started to grow, and as word spread about the contents of what became known … Read the rest

13 Unusual Toilets in the South Island

Toilet tourism made headlines this week with the release of Lonely Planet’s ‘Toilets – A Spotter’s Guide’. A few New Zealand toilets made it into the book including four in our 13 Unusual Toilets in the North Island. Today we’re lifting the lid on some of the South Island’s more unusual loos, starting in Southland.

I didn’t expect to find unusually lovely ladies rooms in a truck museum, but that’s what I found at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill.

Petrolheads will appreciate the men’s room – part of a fuel pump opens the door, Shell oil pumps … Read the rest

13 Unusual Toilets in the North Island

Toilets can be tourist attractions in New Zealand. Every year thousands of vehicles detour to the small Northland town of Kawakawa to see the unusual public toilets designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser  (1928-2000).  Built mostly with recycled materials, the toilets incorporate bricks, bottles, tiles and colourful pottery.

The toilets are built around a living tree and have a roof top garden, reflecting Hundertwasser’s environmentally considerate approach to architecture.

Hundertwasser didn’t like straight lines or flat floors, I suspect the residents in the Waldspirale apartment complex he designed in Germany don’t mind at all. Kawakawa is the only … Read the rest