The Beverly Clock is considered one of the world’s longest running experiments and is the closest thing anyone will ever see to a “perpetual motion machine.”

The Beverly Clock ticks away in the foyer of the Department of Physics at the University of Otago and is still running despite never having been manually wound since its construction in 1865.


Scottish born Arthur Beverly set up his watch making business in Dunedin in 1858 and over the following five years he invented a unique clock mechanism which was driven by variations in atmospheric pressure. Daily temperature changes caused the air in an air-tight box to expand or contract and a six degree temperature variation over the course of a day created enough pressure to raise a one pound weight by one inch, which cleverly continues to drive the unique clock’s mechanism today.

The world got its first glimpse of Arthur’s invention when he proudly exhibited his clock at the Dunedin South Seas Exhibition of 1865 after which the Royal Scottish Society of Arts awarded him a medal for his design.


Staying in Dunedin, once the sun sets and night descends on the city, the Lanyop Gallery opens its doors and invites guests to wander through a tiny art gallery, lit only by candles, while the gallery’s owner, Larry Matthews, plays tunes on his piano.

Hidden behind a George Street bar, Lanyop , a Cajun word meaning “a little something for nothing”, was created to give visitors a new way to experience art. At the entrance, which is found only by word of mouth, Larry hands candles out and invites visitors to walk through his tiny gallery.

The exhibitions regularly change, sometimes showing the work of well-established New Zealand artists, and other times showing the works of unknown designers, whose bizarre work fits well with the atmosphere Larry likes to create. Entrance is completely free but the Tenancy Tribunal has refused to legitimize the gallery so the current legal status is a bit dodgy. However, this is a university town and things tend to happen despite bureaucratic bullshit.


It has been a Kiwi tradition to collect paua shells to use as ashtrays in holiday homes. Maori selected paua fragments to use as eyes in their carvings. However, one couple took paua shell collecting to a new level.

Eccentric couple Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived in Bluff at the very bottom of New Zealand and made a name for themselves by decorating their home with thousands of paua (abalone) shells that Fred spent 40 years collecting from the nearby beach. They plastered entire walls of their house with the shells turning their otherwise ordinary home into a celebrated tourist attraction. It had to be the kitschiest tourist attraction in the country. It has been a Kiwi tradition to collect paua shells to use as ashtrays in holiday homes.

Fred and Myrtle’s House in Bluff

I have visited Bluff on many occasions and have seen Myrtle and Fred in their garden. They always took the time to wave in response to a friendly toot from a passing car. For decades they were the best known celebrities in Southland and they took great joy in showing their outrageous living room to visitors from all over the world. Not only did the paua shell’s rough, iridescent surfaces create an overwhelming effect on their home’s crowded walls, they also incorporated clocks, telephones, picture frames, and various other knick-knacks into the shell motif.  As the years passed visitors added to the outrageous surroundings by leaving calling cards wedged between the shells and the wall.

Museum Reconstruction of the Flutey’s Lounge

When the Fluteys both died in the early 2000s, their grandson purchased the house and despite the protests of some Bluff residents, he loaned the shell collection to the Canterbury Museum.  In 2008, the Fluteys’ lounge was carefully re-constructed in painstaking detail using much of the original furniture and decorations. This has to be one of the weirdest museum exhibits to be seen anywhere in the world.


Flapping in the breeze on the side of the road in the Cardrona Valley not far from Wanaka, the Bra Fence has become a quirky tourist attraction. For some unknown reason, the first 4 bras were attached to the wire fence shortly after Christmas 1998. News soon spread and more bras began to appear. Within a month, there were 60 of the personal garments dangling on the fence, but shortly afterwards they were all removed anonymously. After national media reported the odd goings on with the fence, replacement bras quickly appeared.


In October 2000, around 200 bras had been attached to the fence, and again someone removed them all. This time the story spread as far afield as Europe and the number of bras placed on the fence, or sent to be added, increased dramatically. In early 2006, the fence supported close to 800 bras.


Some conservative locals said the Bra Fence was an eyesore and claimed it was a hazard to drivers using the road. They also decided Asian students studying in Wanaka were offended by the display of female underwear. However, local sheep farmer John Lee, who had become the unofficial guardian of the site, refused to remove the bras saying they were the most photographed attraction in the area. In the past few years, it has become the thing to do with uninhibited female tourists to pose topless for selfies in front of the fence after donating their bras to it.

On 28 April 2006, after discovering the fence rested on public land, the local council ordered it to be cleared of the offending clothing. The public responded to the council’s unpopular decision by creating the world’s longest bra chain which reached some 7,400 bras that raised over $10,000 for charity.

Although it has to be the ugliest tourist attraction anywhere, in 2015, the fence was rebranded “Bradrona” and a donation box placed beside it has collected $30.000 for breast cancer. Similar fences have popped up in Nelson and also in Wairarapa, north of Wellington, but the original in Central Otago is still the biggest and breast (sorry, couldn’t resist).


“Next time you visit Invercargill, you must play Excavator Basketball.” says the promotion material. The southern city has recently opened a new tourist attraction called Dig This, a heavy machinery playground where you can operate diggers and bulldozers in an adult playing pit.  The idea came from a Dunedin man who set up the same operation in Las Vegas which has proven popular with visitors. It was thought the attraction would only appeal to males but females have taken to the challenges available at this unique “hands on” attraction in large numbers.

After some basic training by a supervisor, you are left alone at the controls of these huge machines to scrape, dig, haul and lift to your heart’s content. To make things more interesting, there are objects to pick up ranging in size from large industrial tires to basketballs. There are timed activities such as digging and earth removal. To be honest, it doesn’t appeal to me because I’ve never been a mechanically interested person but I know guys who would love the opportunity to control a heavy machine to satisfy their urge to play with big toys.

People interested in Southland tourism hope this unique attraction will bring visitors to Invercargill and will post their heavy machinery exploits on Facebook and Instagram. It is a case of “see what I can do ya, ya, ya”. One thing is for sure, it is a unique tourist experience that has proven to be a success in the USA so there is no reason why it won’t be in Southland. It definitely needed to be included in a blog on quirky things!

Ceidrik Heward

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