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Driving through Kawakawa you need to slow down as you get to the zebra crossing, as the best place to photograph the Hundertwasser toilets from is the middle of the road, (not recommended by the way). Golden orbs adorn a grass tuft roof, atop a building of mosaic tiling, copper handwork, sculptures and cobblestone floors.
Washing my hands I pressed my nose up to the glass brick, surely I can’t be looking at a man standing at the urinal on the other side! Don’t let this put you off though, as this ‘feature’ would go un-noticed for the most part. Freiderich’s project was about taking subtle steps towards breaking down barriers; much of this attributed to his revolutionary war time experiences.
Getting back to nature with undulating floors, lopsided columns and recycled materials; Freiderich recommended using eyes not tools and was against the straight line, so this will be one of the most fascinating artworks you will visit. As an artist, ecologist and architect he was internationally famous, and he LOVED his adopted small town of Kawakawa. Here you will find treasure troves such as gift shops, yummy food & coffee, local Maori artists, and kids sitting outside the bakery eating apple doughnuts (be quick, they’re usually gone by 10am on Saturday).
Next is Gabriel, you have to watch out for him as he is pretty quiet. (ie; don’t stand in the middle of the road) But I’m sure the driver will give you a big tooty honk to get out of the way. Kawakawa is also known as Train town. Here’s a bit of a fact: Kawakawa is the only town in New Zealand to boast a railway track through the centre of the commercial area. You can ride on Gabriel along the 6km’s of track just out of town. Grab a ticket from the station as it runs Friday - Sunday (operating more during holidays).
If you have a car, then 4km’s south of Kawakawa are the Kawiti glow worm caves at Waiomio. This is great as a quick little diversion; as small groups (in order to protect the cave and its inhabitants) are led through the caves finishing with a short walk through the native rain forest and limestone formations. Friendly guy, an inhabitant of the cave is a pet eel, which can be stroked!
For a meal you can’t go past `North Indian Takeaways’ in the main street. Very average decor, but extraordinary food! People drive from all over the North to have one of their curries...ooh yes, their butter chicken and garlic naan is a regular Friday night meal for a lot of locals.
Just a wee bit famous: The toilets were awarded the prestigious ‘Golden Plunger’ award in a world-wide search for the best public toilets as voted by the travelling public.
Kawakawa: Just over 3 hours drive from Auckland, on New Zealand's East coast
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