Trip Start Nov 06, 2009
354Trip End May 28, 2011
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We continued our journey southwards into 'The King Country', pausing at the curious little town of Otorohanga. The otherwise fairly run-of-the-mill has declared itself 'New Zealand's official Kiwitown' and devotes itself to celebrating all things Kiwi.
The high street lamp posts of the Kiwiana Capital of New Zealand all have popular icons of New Zealand herritage and popular culture hanging from them, e.g. sheep, jandals (flip flops to you and me), pavlova, kiwis etc.
Otorohanga is also extremely proud of its 'Ed Hillary Walkway of Kiwiana'; a few metres of alleyway opposite the village green with displays illiustrating the history of great Kiwi institutions
Although they couldn't find any genuine artefacts used on NZ's favourite explorer's expeditions, they did managed to find an old toothbrush and half a tube of Colgate which he used on his intrepid teeth and is proudly displayed in a glass cabinet.
In 1986 Otorohanga rather amusingly briefly re-named itself 'Harrodsville', in a show of solidarity with local restauranteur, Henry Harrod, who recieved threats of legal action from Mohammed Al Fayed if he did not change the name of his eaterie. Fortunately following major piss-taking by the British tabloids Al Fayed dropped the action and Harrodsville became Otorohanga once again.
Otoranga is also home to the The Kiwi House, a native bird park. We didn't want to leave NZ without seeing a kiwi so decided to have a look.
It was well worth the stop - the delightful lady on duty was very enthusiastic about New Zealand's famous fluffy flightless birds and introduced us to Atu, their 9-year-old greater spotted kiwi who was busily rumaging for worms in the undergrowth of her nocturnally simulated enclosure.
Also in residence at The Kiwi House were a selection of lizards and geckos, and several other native birds including pukekos, those cheeky keas, kakas, wekas, parakeets, harriers,
After a thorough Otorohanga education in all things kiwi we continued on to the village of Te Kuiti, another small town with a slightly strange claim to fame - Te Kuiti is 'The Sheep Shearing Capital of the World'. It hosts NZ's annual National Shearing Championships and boasts the world's largest sheep shearer - a seven tonne, seven metre high statue at the end of its high street.
We had the place, including an impressively extensive collection of films on VHS, all to ourselves (give or take one very attention-seeking cat named 'Cat') so spent the evening sheltering from the rain and watching movies (Terence Stamp in The Limey and Colin Farrell in Tigerland) over a tasty thai yellow curry and some warming wine. Sweet as.