Over­sized nods to small towns


In the town where I live, a giant bot­tle - con­structed of about 25,000 wine bot­tles - sits sto­ically in the main street.

At night it’s even lit up, giv­ing an eerie green glow over the town’s play­ground.

We’re not a grape-grow­ing area (yet) and the bot­tle is a bit stumpy.

More like a gin­ger beer bot­tle rather than a wine bot­tle.

The fact that it has been knocked down and re­built due to a con­struc­tion fault says rather a lot about the town’s oc­cu­pants.

That’s 50,000 bot­tles, and there’s only about 100 of us.

Ap­par­ently, the bot­tle was built ‘to bring peo­ple to town’.

That got me think­ing when I was on my sum­mer road trip at Christ­mas.

All over New Zealand, towns have fundraised to build large icons of their dis­trict in the hope of at­tract­ing peo­ple to their area.

There’s the Kiwi sta­ples - L&P bot­tles and gum­boots, as well as paua shells, a big ap­ple, bulls and prawns.

Spring­field has it’s donut, Ti­rau has a cor­ru­gated iron sheep­dog and Ohakune a big car­rot.

Tourist num­bers are up in Gore, but I’m not sure that’s due to the town’s brown trout, gui­tar and ram stat­ues.

(The ram statue does have some ben­e­fits to the lo­cals though. It’s almost a rite of pas­sage to have your photo taken in a com­pro­mis­ing po­si­tion with Rod­ney the Ram, considering the plinth it is on is so high that his rather spec­tac­u­lar tes­ti­cles are at head height for the av­er­age per­son.)

But do these over-sized nods to what makes our towns and dis­tricts well-known ac­tu­ally ben­e­fit any­one?

Has any­one ever rocked up to Cromwell and thought, ‘my, that’s a mighty fine statue of sum­mer fruit - I think I’ll stay the night’?

(I bet you no-one has ever thought that in Tu­at­a­pere, the sausage cap­i­tal of South­land.)

Do they bring in hoards of cashed-up vis­i­tors by the bus­load, giv­ing re­gional New Zealand a slice of the tourism pie?

To be fair, hu­mans have been build­ing large struc­tures for cen­turies.

But I’d rather have my photo taken in front of the Eif­fel Tower or the Statue of Lib­erty than Rakaia’s huge salmon.

Still, these large ed­i­fices are great for the selfie-ob­sessed gen­er­a­tion.

Who wouldn’t want to post a pic­ture of them­selves on­line with Geral­dine’s giant jersey or Bull’s bulls?

On my road trip I en­coun­tered sev­eral of these large struc­tures - a big clock on a hill, the big sum- mer fruit, a big ram, the big jersey, a big cray­fish and a big salmon, and I didn’t stop to take a selfie with any of them.

A lost op­por­tu­nity?

Per­haps we should print a New Zealand road map so tourists can plan their hol­i­day and not miss out on some of our finest Big Things. Maybe we could build more?

The op­por­tu­ni­ties are end­less. Black­ball, for ex­am­ple? Ku­mara? Ross? Dry­bread or Moa Creek?

Just as well Te Puke built a ki­wifruit first...


Who wouldn’t want to post a pic­ture of them­selves on­line with Bulls’ bulls?

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