New Zealanders enjoy quirky, weird things. I think it has to do with the country’s isolation at the bottom of the world. I also think it is partly due to the Kiwi desire to express individuality and be noted in a world that doesn’t care about them. Maybe it’s to do with identification and to be somehow noticed.

This small country is home to literally hundreds of weird and wonderful attractions, both natural and manmade. I have written about a number of them in previous blogs but I have three more to present to you now. Each is crazy in its own way and definitely qualifies as being a quirky attraction.


Napier’s Opossum World contains quirky displays of stuffed opossums (also called possums) a section selling skins, along with an educational centre designed to teach visitors about the country’s opossum epidemic. It is the world’s only museum dedicated to destroying an animal and has the slogan, “Save a New Zealand tree. Buy Opossum fur products,”

Originating in Australia, the cute looking bushtail opossum was introduced to New Zealand in an attempt to create a fur industry. However since the animal had no natural predators, the opossum population quickly grew out of control and is now a serious problem in the parts of the country where they flourish. It is estimated that there are 20 opossums to every human and that they consume around 21,000 tons of foliage every night. A number of ways to eradicate them over the years have failed and they remain a serious threat to native wildlife and plants.

Among the odd sights you can see at Opossum World is a stuffed opossum choir that stands on top of a car that has just killed one of them, along with a graphic series of stuffed figures to demonstrate the opossum birth process.


The retail portion of Opossum World sells pelts and clothing made of soft opossum fur. The museum’s message encouraging opossum slaughter may offend some animal lovers but the explicit dioramas and convincing argument that the imported creatures are rapidly destroying New Zealand’s ecosystem provides a clear message: opossums are destructive and must be destroyed.


David and Lee Fallow’s collection of waste materials is presented as a uniquely odd village that has become one of Invercargill’s tourist attractions. The weird stuff on display there has featured in TV programmes, plays and movies.


In 2003, the Southland couple created Demolition World as a quirky way to sell the wide range of materials they had gathered from demolition sites and other junk yards around the province. I guess their unique village could be classed as a ghost town with all the exhibits having had previous lives. It was designed to stir the imagination of all who visit the place. Among the attractions is an entirely rebuilt church with a bride in golden ringlets standing alone at the altar. There is a pioneer era kitchen and a medieval banquet attended by expressionless metallic mannequins. Some of the dummies date from the 1940s and can be seen hanging from the rafters! There is even a toy shop and a somewhat unappealing medical and dental clinic. Demolition World puts a whole new spin on re-cycling. In this case, it’s the power of the imagination that has turned other people’s junk into a popular tourist attraction.


The Toothbrush Fence in Te Pahu, near Hamilton borders a farm on a quiet rural road and as the name suggests, it is a fence adorned with toothbrushes. There are a few dish brushes that have joined the gathering too. A local artist got the idea for the fence from the famous Bra Fence in Wanaka (I have mentioned this in a previous blog). The quirky Toothbrush Fence gained international recognition when it was mentioned in TV’s “Flight of the Conchords” At the time, there were just 50 toothbrushes hanging on it but with the TV mention, the number quickly grew to over 2,300. Children’s toothbrushes stand out for their bright colours and interesting shapes to make them attractive to kids.

Toothbrush Fence (flickr)

Former New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, a native of the district, has donated one of her toothbrushes to the fence and since then, other local celebrities have hung up their used oral hygiene implements on the fence. A sign near the fence instructs donors on how to attach their offerings to the line up. They can steady their toothbrush in a clamp to drill a hole in the shaft before helping themselves to a pre-cut piece of wire to attach their brush.  The post boxes nearby have Rubik’s Cubes attached to the fence to play with after admiring the quirky display lining this quiet little rural New Zealand road.

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Ceidrik Heward

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