With a landmass of around 270,500 square-kilometres split between its two major sections (aptly named the North and South Islands) it is about the size of the UK, but with only 4.5 million people the population is less than half that of New York City – that makes for grand wide open spaces and absolutely stunning countryside. A self-driving paradise!
One of the quirky things that you’ll find in New Zealand is the desire of locals to trumpet their town pride through icons or simply “big things” – giant statues and structures that often symbolise something near and dear to the hearts of locals. These started out life simply as “tourist traps” but have become something of a cult phenomenon status in both NZ and Australia. Add this unique checklist of New Zealand’s Big Things to your road trip itinerary and see how many you can mark off!
New Zealand’s Big Things Road Trip Checklist
- Big Apple, Waitomo Caves
- Big Bicycle, Taupo
- Big Bull, Bulls
- Big Carrot, Ohakune
- Big Gumboot, Taihape
- Big Kiwifruit, Te Puke
- Big Kiwis, Otorohanga
- Big L&P Bottle (Lemon and Paeroa), Paeroa
- Big Sheep & Sheepdog, Tirau
- Big Trout, Taupo
- Big Clock, Alexandra
- Big Crayfish, Kaikoura
- Big Doughnut, Springfield
- Big Fruit, Cromwell
- Big Paua, Riverton
- Big Salmon, Rakaia
- Big Sandfly, Pukekura
- Big Trout, Gore
- Five Clydesdales, Clinton
- Big Surfer, Colac Bay
The Story Behind Some of the Big Things
Big L&P Bottle, Paeroa, North Island
As you travel the country, you’ll likely see a brand called ‘L&P’ in fridges everywhere. It is a popular local soft drink, which is a mixture of both lemon and local spring water – hence the name Lemon and Paeroa, or L&P for short. In its namesake town stands a mighty 7-metre-high statue dedicated to the beverage, surrounded by plaques that divulge a little info on its development.
Big Fruit, Cromwell, South Island
As you proceed into the town from either State Highway (SH) 6 or 8 via SH 8B, you’ll notice a luminous multi-fruit sculpture standing proud above a sign reading ‘Cromwell, the Centre of Attraction’. This colourful display is the easily recognisable symbol for this small township, which has become famous for its fruit and wine production. On your Aotearoa road trip through the region, be sure you stop for some fruity snacks to keep energy levels up in the car!
Big Sheep and Big Dog, Tirau, North Island
There are at least 30 million sheep in NZ, vastly outnumbering the human population. This means it’s fitting that there is a big thing dedicated to these placid animals, as well as the dogs who round them up. Tirau is a small tourist town sitting just south of Hamilton on SH1, with its unique visitor’s centre situated inside the local Big Dog – made of good old-fashioned Kiwi corrugated iron. Next door you’ll also find the Big Sheep, which houses Wild Spirit NZ – a company specialising in gorgeous local wool products.
Big Crayfish, Kaikoura, South Island
If you love seafood, you’ll get a kick out of passing through Kaikoura. Not only is this famous town the whale watching capital of the country, it’s also where you can see a (let’s face it) slightly ominous-looking crayfish crawling down the side of the Lobster Inn Tavern. Pop in for a delicious spot of lunch, or grab a drink and a hearty belly warmer if you are staying overnight in the township. The tavern’s red crustacean will guard the windows as you eat!
Gibbs Farm, Kaipara, North Island
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific big thing at Kaipara’s Gibbs Farm. Upon the rolling green hills overlooking the truly amazing Kaipara Harbour lies a sculpture park on the grandest of scales. There are numerous statues on this land that need to be seen to be believed – they’re ginormous! Our favourite would have to be artist Anish Kapoor’s ‘Dismemberment’, which looks a little like a red vuvuzela horn … except the size of a Boeing 747.
Giant Kiwifruit, Te Puke, North Island
To top it all off, we have probably the biggest big thing in New Zealand: Kiwi360’s Giant Kiwifruit, located just outside of Te Puke. This business is a kiwifruit wonderland, with regular tours hosted here to take you through the orchards, which you can enjoy after getting your picture taken at the top of this North Island legend. This statue is big enough to clamber up inside to a look out platform near the top, so you’ll want to bring a camera.