A traveler just never knows what is going to be around the next corner. Each trip has its unusual little bit of quirkiness, to make every day a special adventure. Case in point is Tirau, in the Waikato region of New Zealand, population 690.
Leaving Auckland for a few days, we had a five hour drive ahead of us, with a planned stop midway to check out Rotorua, a popular destination because of its abundant thermal hot-springs. Tirau wasn’t even on our radar as a place to stop.
That all changed as we rounded the corner and were confronted with this……
Known to the locals as “The Big Dog”, this building, which you literally can’t miss on the main strip as you enter town from the direction of Auckland, is actually the home of the i-SITE center or tourist information center. New Zealand does a great job helping tourists get the most of their trip by providing a comprehensive network of tourist offices. As Kiwis like to say, they are “choka” (i.e. full) of information. Even the smallest town has one, but surely this one must be the most remarkable.
This 6-meter high dog constructed of corrugated iron is the work of local Tirau artist, Steven Clothier. With New Zealand’s moderate environment, corrugated metal is often used as a roofing material, but Steven has molded and manipulated it into one-of-a-kind art pieces that can now be found all over New Zealand.
It was the vision of some of the citizens to change Tirau from a town that tourists would just drive through to a place to stop, shop, linger and eat. Tirau is now know as the “Corrugated Capital of New Zealand.”
While we wandered around Tirau, we were amused to find….
The Good Shepherd, keeping watch over the local church.
A sheep which houses a wool shop, right next door to the i-SITE Center and it’s neighbor, a ram.
Everyone is joining into the fun. The school, the mechanic……
The candy store, the liquor store and the grocer …………
All the coffee shops…….
All of this fun is within 3 or 4 blocks along the main street. An easy way to be amused for an hour while you stretch your legs, have some lunch and spend a few bucks. Many towns and cities have sculptures that depict their town mascot. What sets Tirau apart is the playfulness, whimsy and shear volume of their corrugated art. Well worth a stop.
If you are interested in knowing more about Steven Clothier and Corrugated Creations, you check it out here. He makes custom creations and ships them all over the world. Perhaps you will be inspired to have one of your own.