5 Kiwi landmarks worth visiting

New Zealand's obsession with big things has gotten out of hand - and is well worth getting out of the car for.

If you’re heading off on a road trip, don’t just drive past these quirky New Zealand monuments. There’s nothing like a snap of you and your friends beside a giant carrot or an enormous bottle of L&P to take you back to a brilliant holiday at home.

1. The Tirau dog

This Kiwi classic has to be the pinnacle of corrugated iron cuteness! Where else would you find such a thing? The main drag of Tirau is home to the Steven Clothier’s Big Dog Information Centre, which opened in September 1998.

This pooch’s beauty isn’t just skin deep either. If you step inside, you’ll be treated to a mural of local scenes painted by local artist Fred Luckman. Naturally, the Tirau dog has some crinkly friends including a corrugated iron shepherd, sheep and kiwi. And, if you’re a coffee fan, the café opposite the dog does an excellent almond milk latte.

2. The Ohakune carrot

Heading down State Highway 1 to Ruapehu? You won’t miss this 7.5-metre tall tribute to Ohakune’s biggest crop. It was erected in 1984 and swiftly gained celebrity status as New Zealand’s most hugged “Big Thing”.

Of course, carrots have been a big thing in the region since they were first grown during the 1920s by Chinese settlers. Now Ohakune grows two-thirds of all of the North Island’s carrots. In October 2016, Carrot Park was created around the big fella, boasting a fabulous playground for the kids and some vegetable friends for the famous carrot.

3. The L&P bottle in Paeroa

Talk about “world famous in New Zealand!” This big bottle celebrates Lemon & Paeroa, a delicious fizzy drink only found here (or in specialty shops overseas).

The name comes from the original ingredients – lemon flavouring and spring water from Paeroa (only these days it’s bottled by Coca-Cola).

Paeroa isn’t just known for lovely water – it’s also the entrance to the Karangahake Gorge, which is incredibly popular for its walkways, winery, fishing, rock climbing, swimming and the Hauraki Rail Trail. And really, who could resist a selfie with something this sweet?

4. Te Anau takahe

Reports of the takahe’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The flightless bird was officially considered extinct for 50 years – until an Invercargill GP filmed birds in Fiordland in 1948.

Sadly, it’s still critically endangered, so don’t just admire the beautiful statue outside Fiordland House in Te Anau, consider donating to The Department of Conservation Takahe Recovery Programme as well.

Te Anau is the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting the famed Milford Sound, plus you can make plans to walk the Milford, Routeburn or Kepler tracks at the Visitor Centre.

Aside from the spectacular hiking opportunities, you can also take your pick of scenic flights, lake cruising, fishing or kayaking.

5. Te Puke kiwifruit

It’s dubbed the Kiwifruit Capital of the World, so it’s only right that there’s a huge fibreglass kiwfuit slice in Te Puke. It towers over State Highway 2 and if you’re driving by it’s a great place to stop and take a picture. You can also climb the internal stairway to the top for a really great shot of this horticultural hub. If you’re a fan of walking, there are loads of tracks to explore nearby.

Stroll through native bush at Roydon Downs Bush Reserve or alternatively, you can drive 30 minutes inland and climb Mount Otanewainuku.

The area has never been logged, so you’ll be treated to some beautiful native flora including giant rimu. At the top, prepare to be amazed by the views across to the East Cape, Rotorua and as far south as Mount Ruapehu.

The perfect travel snack

Every great road trip requires the perfect snack and Countdown can help with that. Oozing with mouthwatering raspberry-flavoured filling, fluffy marshmallow and roasted peanuts, all encased in smooth milk chocolate, Countdown’s Own Rocky Road Mallows will take your tastebuds on a road trip of their own. Rrp $2 a pack.

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