Kiwis are known around the world for being inventive. I also think, as a race, they are quite eccentric. Here are three exhibits that endorse that belief.


The kumara is the Maori name for a sweet potato. They come in odd shapes and have to be amongst the least attractive looking vegetables on earth. However, they are tasty and provide valuable nutrients to the body.

Warren Suckling, known locally as ‘Ernie the Kumara King’ has turned his family farm close to the small town of Dargaville in Northland into one of the oddest tourist attractions in Australasia. The tour he has created starts in an ex- kumara storage shed, (the Kumara Box). The shed is full of memorabilia collected by Ernie over the years to celebrate the region’s past. ‘The Kumara King’ kicks things off by telling stories of the farming history of the kumara in the region. He shows a short film as a visual aid to clarify points he brings up in the talk on how they are planted and harvested. His unique sense of humour helps make the stories interesting to people who have never stepped onto a farm before.

The ‘Kumara Train’ (Must Do NZ)

Once visitors have been enlightened with Ernie’s stories, he then takes them for a drive around his extensive kumara farm on his tractor powered ‘kumara train’ with carriages fashioned from old 44 gallon oil drums painted with colours to match his kumara crops. The 30 minute ride takes visitors past local collections of his memorabilia and some of his unique creations. These exhibits include a giant flax covered kiwi, a very odd exhibit of a female mannequin who squats on a toilet in an old fashioned long drop cubicle!! There is also a metal dingy sitting on a collection of driftwood and stones and to add to the strangeness of the whole place, there is also New Zealand’s smallest church to squeeze into. Of course, there are also giant kumaras plonked in various locations around the farm.


Whakamana Cannabis Museum opened its doors in Dunedin in 2013 as a centre for Cannabis education, information, and law reform activism. It is also designed to assist in bringing the creative visions of New Zealand’s vibrant cannabis culture to life. There is a cafe and an exhibition space that features displays of cannabis consumption devices, products and memorabilia from places where cannabis is legal.

The Whakamana Cannabis Library features over 100 books about cannabis use in ancient cultures, drugs in general use and other topics. The museum also has a member’s space for special events and is home to New Zealand’s only recognized Cannabis Social Club. This space contains a table-tennis table, board games, vintage and modern gaming consoles, art supplies and musical instruments. This meeting-space is a magnet for cannabis friendly activists, artists and entrepreneurs.

Creator of the museum, Abe Gray has stated that the presence of the museum in Dunedin with a history of support for drug law change and possession would make it ideal as a centre for cannabis tourism when the drug is legalised in New Zealand, possibly this year.


Arguably the quirkiest theme park in the southern hemisphere, The Waterworks offers 70 oddball contraptions to make you laugh as you enjoy activating them with the aid of water power. Although this theme park celebrates all things low tech, it was rated as a ‘must do Kiwi experience’ by AA Tourism!! Most of the exhibits have been re-cycled from different uses in previous lives.

Set in 2 hectares of lush Coromandel bush alongside the Waiau River, the Waterworks houses a collection of fascinating exhibits.  I have written about other quirky enterprises around New Zealand with similar oddball exhibits, but this is the only place where they are all water powered. There is a water powered drum that activates a series of kitchen knives to create a tune. Nearby, a hydro-electric contraption generates power for a light bulb. Other attractions include a water cannon, a waterwheel, a wooden water clock, a ‘Willy Wonka’ style waterfall, a flying bike and a variety of water guns. Squirt guns are popular with kids as they aim the water jets at conveniently placed chickens (poor things). Each weird contraption dramatically demonstrates what can be created from the quirky Kiwi mind.

Water Clock (stuff.co.nz)

I have presented 17 other quirky attractions around New Zealand in earlier blogs. I’m sure in my ongoing research I will discover more wacky things to write about. Watch this space!!

Ceidrik Heward


  1. Angela Stevenson says

    Another great blog. Can’t believe this country has so many interesting things to do and see.
    Very interesting indeed.

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