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12 odd, strange, peculiar New Zealand stories

  • 2 minutes

@Maunga Hikurangi

Odd, slightly spooky New Zealand here’s a list of enormous insects, tragic stories, bridges to somewhere and stories about people who died in MIQ (19th century style).

Slope Point, Invercargill
Slope Point, Invercargill
  1. Slope point, the southernmost point of the South Island, south of Waikawa

Another lighthouse, another powerful place where natural elements combine. Visitors are braced against the constant winds. Frankly it’s freezing and it is February (mid summer). You start to feel like the trees, hunched and bent in one direction facing away from the wind. The weather energy, the boiling, rolling surf and the lighthouse perched on the tip pointing directly at the endless ocean is sheer chilling glory. There is even a single solitary cemetery to ponder about. A definite place worthy of any bucket list.

  1. Mellonsfolly Ranch, Upper Ruatiti

The Central Plateau North Island has the historic Forgotten World Highway with its primeval forests and sheer ravines. Drop dead gorgeous. Yet few people visit the remote central Canterbury settlement of Mellonsfolly Ranch. It is an authentic wild west town bang smack in the middle of New Zealand. Extraordinary streetscape that would not look out of place in a movie set. Get a pair of authentic Levis, cowboy and cowgirl boots and get going. How to get there : Turn off State Highway 4 between the Ohakune turnoff and Raetihi at the Ruatiti 22KM sign and continue to follow the Ruatiti signs and brown Transit Old West Town signs. Currently closed. The waiting is going to make it even better. We’ve even heard a rumour it’s for sale.

Mellonsfolly Ranch, New Zealand @Dean Wright
Mellonsfolly Ranch @Dean Wright
Hot Water Beach, Kawhia, New Zealand @The Elsewhere Kiddo
Hot Water Beach, Kawhia @The Elsewhere Kiddo
  1. Hot water beach, Kawhia

You are invited to trudge over enormous black sand dunes to get to your destination. It will be hot, very hot and there is no shade whatsoever. Start the journey at the quiet settlement of Kawhai. Hot Water Beach / Ocean beach at low tide provides the hardy visitor with an instant hot water spa with stunning vistas of iron sands, ocean and sky. It is likely you could be the only people on the beach. Remember to bring a shovel. There are no toilets or drinking water at the beach. And it’s a hot steep slippery climb up the iron sands, best to attempt this in either spring or autumn. Summer it’s hot, boiling and sweating hot. Directions: Drive to the end of Ocean Beach Road (ask one of the friendly locals if you have trouble finding this road). Park in the car park and walk over the sand dunes down onto Ocean Beach.

  1. Lake Coleridge & Torlesse Tussocklands Park, Arthurs pass

You can’t go any further as there is a stupendously big alpine range in the way, The Southern Alps one way destination Lake Coleridge is South Island lucious scenery without a tour bus in sight. The mere 24.5km from Torlesse Tussocklands Park is approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours driving. It’s windy, narrow and definitely explorer territory. While a 4WD makes the journey more comfortable it can be achieved in a saloon car (2WD). Impassible in winter this is a summer treat. The bonus is Torlesse Tussocklands Park located at the junction to SH 73 and Arthurs Pass over the Southern Alps.

Lake Coleridge, New Zealand
Lake Coleridge
The Bridge to Somewhere, New Zealand @TripAdvisor
The Bridge to Somewhere @TripAdvisor
  1. The bridge to somewhere, Aotuhia, Whangamōmona

PAPER ROADS going nowhere fast. And you even have to walk the last 18km or mountain bike the terrain. The Aotuhia Bridge to Somewhere is accessed via Whangamomona. Behind the hotel the road passes the camping grounds and an abandoned Catholic church. You are greeted with a notice that the road is no longer supported by the Council. The paper road is accessible on foot or mountain bike. You will arrive at an abandoned settlement of Aotuhia. It’s a road into the journey of failed farming enterprises. It’s the lesser known relative of the Bridge to Nowhere and suffered a similar fate.

  1. World’s Loneliest Tree, Campbell Island

The Sitka spruce, a northern hemisphere native, is a long way from its taxonomic cousins, and in fact, the closest tree of any kind is more than 170 miles northeast on the Auckland Islands. The seed was planted around the turn of the 20th century by Lord Ranfurly. More than 100 years later, this lonely tree is considered the most isolated tree in the world.

World's Loniest Tree, New Zealand @AtlasObscura
World's Loniest Tree @AtlasObscura
  1. The natural flames of Murchison

The world’s only perpetually burning fire in a forest. In the beech forest of the Blackwater Valley, the oil feeds a little-known natural phenomenon – if you know where to look. A bizarre cauldron of bright yellow smokeless flames burns eternally in the bush here, feeding off natural methane gas leaking continuously from the ground.

The natural flames of Murchison, New Zealand @avionroads The natural flames of Murchison @avionroads
The natural flames of Murchison, New Zealand @truenzwalkingtracks The natural flames of Murchison @truenzwalkingtracks
  1. Jedi Religion in New Zealand

On the 2001 New Zealand census, 53,715 people listed their religion as “Jedi.” That was more than the amount of Buddhist and Hindu in the country. New Zealand had the highest per capita population of reported Jedi in the world that year.

  1. Longest Name in Any English Speaking Country

The 85 characters long Maori name for a hill in Hawke’s Bay is the longest place namefound in any English-speaking country. It is: Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, The place with the longest name in the world is situated in the small settlement of Pōrangahau in Hawke’s Bay. The ancient story behind the name is reflected in its translation as, “The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘landeater’, played his flute to his loved one.” Source Alexa gets Māori wake-up call about world’s longest place name. Getting there is an adventure in itself, for details check here What’s so great about Waipukurau and Waipawa: what to see, best things to do.

Taumata Hill, New Zealand @The telegraph Taumata Hill @The telegraph
  1. New Zealand is the first country to see the sunrise

Thanks to the curvature of the Earth, the North Island city of Gisborne on the East Coast is the first to see the actual sunrise … Mount Hikurangi is the place to be … stunning sculptures reflect the stories associated with sunrise.

Maunga Hikurangi, New Zealand @Stuff Maunga Hikurangi @Stuff
Mahoenui giant Weta, New Zealand @Department of Conservation
Mahoenui giant Weta @Department of Conservation
  1. Creepy crawler

The weta is the largest insect in the world, weighing at 70g. The weta loves carrots and has ears on its knees and how about Powelliphanta snail. It has a carnivorous diet of earthworms (which it sucks up through its mouth), weighs 90g and can live for up to 20 years.

Check out Unusual Creatures found only in Aotearoa. Who needs elephants when you have our own fascinating creepy crawling insects.

  1. Ōtamahua/Quail Island was a managed isolation quarantine station (MIQ)


  • View replica leper hut
  • Stone terraces built by prisoners from Lyttelton Jail in early 20th century
  • Dog kennels where Shackleton and Scott housed their dogs prior to departing for their Antarctic expeditions.
  • Poignant solitary grave of the only leper to die there, 20-year-old Ivan Skelton, who was visiting relatives at Westport in 1918 when he was diagnosed and moved to Quail Island.
  • He died alone five years later

What to know more about our MIQ stations in the 19th century check out Pandemics.

Ōtamahua, Quail Island isolation quarantine station (MIQ), New Zealand @Stuff
Ōtamahua, Quail Island isolation quarantine station (MIQ) @Stuff

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