Making your mark

It involves identifying an object or activity your town is ‘famous’ for, building an oversized version of it, and hoping that tourists will take photos.

There’s a fine tradition among New Zealand towns wanting to get themselves on the tourist map. And it’s not just towns that are short on scenic beauty that do it. Take Ohakune for example. Their giant carrot, which celebrates the area’s proud carrot-growing industry, is the most prominent landmark in town. But stand at the base of the carrot and look westward and, on a clear day, you’ll enjoy breath-taking views of the North Island’s highest peak: the snow-capped Mt Ruapehu.

As its slogan says, the Hauraki Plains township of Paeroa is ‘in the middle of everywhere’, but one could argue that it lacks the visual splendour of, say, Ohakune. Nevertheless it’s the place where L&P was first bottled and of that the town is rightly very proud. Hence the seven-metre tall replica bottle (originally constructed from five cattle troughs stacked on top of each other) that draws thousands of visitors every year.

In the appropriately named Gumboot Park, a large corrugated iron gumboot standsTaihape residents are proud of their reputation as a town that typifies New Zealand's hard-working heartland. They love a good laugh too. Every year, they hold a ‘sports’ day to find out who can throw a gumboot the furthest. In the appropriately named Gumboot Park, a large corrugated iron gumboot stands – a permanent celebration of the town’s gumboot-throwing reputation. For full visual impact, visit at night to witness the boot in all its illuminated glory.

In the south, a rather classy take on the man-made landmark idea can be found on the banks of Lake Tekapo. Here you’ll find a bronze statue of a border collie. It’s a tribute to an animal whose brains, loyalty and hard work played a key role in establishing the Mackenzie Country’s world-leading sheep farming industry.

These man-made ‘landmarks’ are the epitome of kiwiana. Yet in the South Canterbury town of Springfield there’s an example that’s as Americana as apple pie. The residents have erected a giant, purple-iced donut that draws a link with that town’s namesake – the home of TV’s favourite family, the Simpsons.