When you think wacky roadside attractions, chances are you think of the United States. Due to its vastness and size, the USA is a country made for road trips, and therefore, roadside attractions like the Giant Ball of Twine. You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking it was the place to see this kind of stuff, because well, that was my belief as well until I saw the giant carrot.
Sure, I had noticed some other weird things on my drive to Okahune, but it was the carrot and adjacent playground that really did it for me. You see, it’s not just bizarre, it is also unexpected: the giant carrot is the first man-made thing you see after miles and miles of pure, untouched landscape, so it sort of stands out.
After seeing this strange and hilarious statue, I started taking note of the other strange things I saw on the road here in New Zealand. So, here’s a list of funky and “giant” roadside attractions I’ve seen on the North Island, all thanks to Okahune’s giant carrot.
Note: I have only personally seen the first 6 of these attractions. The rest were compiled using internet research and gathering photos from other travelers.
1. Giant Carrot – Okahune
The giant carrot of Okahune has been greeting visitors to Okahune on the North Island since 1984. Originally used as a prop in a commercial, the town purchased the fiberglass prop as a way to honor farmers in the area who grow most of the country’s carrot crop.
But if you’re going to stop and look at the carrot, you’re going to want to park and check out what’s behind it: the Carrot Adventure Park. In addition to the slides and swings, this playground features a number of fun crop-inspired characters with ridiculous names to match, such as “Muncho Manchester” the carrot.
2. Giant Gumboot – Taihape
Although it’s corrugated iron is painted in bright colors, the Gumboot of Taihape is a bit easier to miss than Okahune’s carrot. Not only is it smaller, but it is also not in as obvious a location, especially when driving North. Still, it has just as strange a story behind it: The town erected the statue after it became known as the “Gumboot Capital of the World.” The thing is, the town doesn’t make or really have anything to do with gumboots, it got the moniker thanks to a fictional gumboot-wearing character named Fred Dagg who came from Taihape.
3. Giant Bull – Bulls
To be fair, there is way more bull to see in Bulls than just the giant one, even though the town doesn’t get its name from the animal. Instead, Bulls was named after James Bull, an English settler who owned and operated the town’s first general store. Still, in recent years the town has taken to celebrating the animal that shares its name by erecting giant bull statues all around town, including a big wooden one that stands in its center.
While the bull on wheels itself is impressive, what really got me was the sign of bull puns next to it. The sign points you towards some of the town’s sights, including the Bulls Library, which is described as”read-a-bull,” The Mothered Goose Cafe, which is apparently “select-a-bull,” and the information center which is, unsurprisingly, “inform-a-bull.”
4. Giant De Molen Windmill – Foxton
This is just so out of place and random that my first thought when I went inside the windmill was “only in New Zealand!” The fully-operational windmill opened in 2003 and is a full-scale replica of the traditional windmills found in the Netherlands. (It even grounds flour you can buy!) The ground floor is a shop that sells goods imported from the Netherlands, but you can also see the working parts of the windmill for a small donation.
5. Cuba Street Bucket Fountain
While I saw the other 4 on a single road trip out of Wellington, this strange and splashy statue resides in the city I currently call home. It’s a pretty average looking bucket fountain, and honestly, I don’t understand why this silly statue is on so many people’s “must see” lists. Not only is it strange, the fountain is also broken and splashes unsuspecting visitors. Local lore has it the fountain does this because no one remembered what order the buckets were supposed to go in after being taken apart for maintenance.
6. Big Dog and Sheep – Tirau