New Zealand interests many around the world already as that relatively small island towards the bottom of the globe, near Antarctica.
And once you’re in the country there are lots of unusual attractions to visit. And that’s without getting started with the unusual birds!
In this post we’ll dive into 10 unusual places to put on your New Zealand bucket list.
The self declared republic, Whangamomona is a small town on the Forgotten Highway between Taumarunui and Stratford in the North Island.
What makes Whangamomona unusual, other than it’s isolated location, takes you back to 1989 when the council redrew the regional boundaries.
Whangamomona wanted to remain a part of Taranaki, rather than becoming part of Manawatu-Wanganui.
So the residents (less than 200) stood up for themselves and declared the town, the Republic of Whangamomona.
They were obviously doing this as tongue and cheek, but now every two years they celebrate Republic Day. Past presidents of the republic include a goat, turtle, and a poodle.
It’s a fun place to stay for a night, with the Whangamomona Hotel happy to stamp your passport to show you’ve visited the Republic of Whangamomona.
The Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel is a popular tourist attraction, but that’s due to the fact it’s something different.
You need to go head to the beach on either side of low tide, then dig a hole to create your own hot pool.
Where does the hot water come from when the ocean water metres away is cold?
There are two underground fissures where the water comes up from and digging holes lets the water reach the surface.
Quick tip: There’s also a hot water beach experience you can have at Lake Tarawera near Rotorua.
Millions of kids around the world love playing with their toy diggers as they grow up.
Their small plastic toy fueling their imagination as to what’s possible when they move sand across the sandpit to build a new hill.
But at Invercargills, Dig This, adults can fuel their imagination by taking the controls of a digger.
In a large gravel pit you can take full control of various diggers and bulldozers and have fun getting creative with mounds of dirt.
This is a tourist attraction that leaves you thinking, why didn’t I think of starting that? We’re all big kids after all, yea?
Wai-O-Tapu is another famous tourist attraction that features on brochures throughout the country is Wai-O-Tapu.
The colours are impressive and are so contrasting you could be forgiven for thinking they’ve been manipulated by humans. But they’re not, the waters are the work of underground geothermal activity over 1000s of years.
With over 18 square kilometres of geothermal activity, Wai-O-Tapu is an impressive sight. And don’t forget to time your visit to see the Lady Knox Geyser in action.
Those who regularly explore the Tararua Ranges love them.
People spend years exploring different parts of the Tararua, but one unusual place within them is the aircraft wreck on Shingle Slip Knob.
To get there is not easy, with most people staying at Powell Hut the night before going to Shinge Slip Knob, provided there’s a good weather window.
The plane wreck is a New Zealand Airforce De Havilland Devon that crashed in 1955.
Located on a steep slope, the fuselage, wings, and other debris is still found and is fascinating to explore in the middle of nowhere.
If you were to stumble across Stonehenge Aotearoa unexpectedly you might well be confused as to what country you’re in.
But you’re definitely not looking at the prehistoric monument, Stonehenge, in England.
Stonehenge Aotearoa is the hub of Astronomy in the Wairarapa, but they make it clear this is not a replica of the English version. This is a modern interpretation based on various stone circles and astronomical structures around the world.
Either way, it’s an unexpected sight to come across in NZ.
And there you go, 10 unusual places in New Zealand. There’s plenty more strange attractions around the country, but these will get you started!
There are lots of mini golf courses throughout NZ, but Carlucci Land is unlike any other.
The course takes you through dozens of pieces of sculptures made from recycled material. Add in a few carefully placed rocks, you’ve got a unique place that’s part junkyard, part golf course.
The closer you look the more art you discover with tiny sculptures littered in between the large sculptures. And the creativity to incorporate them with the mini golf course is impressive.
On the edge of Tongariro National Park is a small town called Horopito with an unusual attraction that’s gaining in popularity.
Horopito Motors is the only place in Australasia known as a vintage car dismantler. So after you’ve walked the Tongariro Crossing, pop into Horopito where you can walk around the property full of cars in various states dating back to the early 1900s.
Bill Cole started Horopito Motors after making the decision not to scrap any parts of the various cars that came to the property for dismantling.
That’s why today there are dozens of vehicles in various forms of dismantling throughout the property, and yes, you can buy parts if you come across something you need.
9. Teapot Land
The Catlins is a region that’s starting to feature on more tourist itineraries. With the waterfalls and rugged coastline the main attraction the Catlins is a remote destination, even in the relatively sparse South Island.
But as you follow the highway through the Catlins, many people find themselves stopping outside Graham Renwick’s house in Owaka.
What started as one teapot placed in his front garden has now grown to a collection of over 1300 teapots decorating the lawn and becoming an unusual tourist attraction in its own right.
It’s a short stop to see the teapots, but good luck trying to drive past without showing any interest. With so many themed teapots, you’ll find yourself smiling throughout your visit.
Kawakawa is a small town in Northland attracting tourists every day who hold on patiently to do their business here.
Here being the Hundertwasser Toilets, designed by the famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived near Kawakawa. These toilets, which are a piece of art, have become a tourist attraction due to their unique style. They’re also Hundertwasser’s only project completed in the Southern Hemisphere.
With a quirky design, make sure to drink plenty of water in the lead up to your arrival in Kawakawa for the full experience.
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