An artistic toilet block on the tourist trail in New Zealand captures our imagination

The Hundertwasser Toilets are one of the most bizarre toilet blocks I think I’ve ever seen.

We missed them the first time.

Hundertwasser toilets are a must see in New Zealand

We drove back up the street and there they were, how on earth had we missed them? Bright, colourful, artistic and brilliant!  Maybe the hundreds of motorcyclists riding up and down the street had something to do with it.

We had left Paihia a short time before on our way to Miranda, to start our Hauraki Rail Trail cycling tour and  had read about this amazing work of art in the form of pubic toilets, in the town of Kawakawa.  So we did what every good tourist does and pulled in for a look, the fact that it was morning tea time also helped with our decision!

Kawakawa is quite a small town and apart from the amazing toilet block and street art, it  has a train line running down the middle of the main street.  Apparently it was once known as Train Town. It was only a short drive south from Paihia, where we’d enjoyed a few days in the Bay of Islands. From Auckland it’s close to a 3 hour drive north to Kawakawa.

We wandered around the main street, visited the artistic toilet block, enjoyed the murals and mosaics along the street and found a cafe to soak up the atmosphere. I loved the quote included on one of the sections of the mural –

When we dream alone it is only a dream but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality. Hundertwasser

The town is famous for its Hundertwasser toilet block, designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who was a resident of the town from 1975 until his death in 2000.

Driving through Kawakawa, it’s hard not to notice the colourful sculptures, mosaics, copper and cobblestones of the town’s public toilets.

Like nothing you’ve ever seen before, golden orbs perch on the grass tuft roof of this truly unique public washroom. Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser lived in Kawakawa from the mid 70’s to his death in 2000, and gifted the toilets to the town. Be warned – he didn’t like using straight lines, so this might be one of the most fascinating designs you encounter!

Kawakawa is also the only town in New Zealand that is home to a railway track through the middle of town. Created during the coal mining days, you can take a ride the train today – it’s called the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway. Source

Lots of tourists flock to Kawakawa to visit the toilet block as they are seen as an international work of art! I can confirm that they are fully functioning with both male and female sections, but usually people are keen to inspect the whole block due to their interesting design features. We were entranced with the bright and colourful design.

Of course we took a few photos!

The crazy tiling, the glass bottle walls, the bright colours, the curves, the lack of straight lines – combined with the unexpectedness of it all – really intrigued us.  What do you think?

We travelled to the North Island of New Zealand in November 2017 for three weeks and in November 2016 we spent two weeks in the South Island.  Both islands had their own character and charms and we thoroughly enjoyed our time travelling around.

Have you ever experienced an artistic installation where you least expected to find it? I’d love to hear about it.

It’s one of the best things about travelling I think, the things you see along the way followed closely by the people you meet.

Happy travels!

Deb 🙂

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PS. I mentioned this toilet block, in passing, in a recent Sentence a Day post and a regular reader commented that I couldn’t just leave it at that and move on, she wanted more information! So I have written this post to explain the artistic nature of this intriguing place.

You can also find Deb’s World here – come join me.

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  One thought on “An artistic toilet block on the tourist trail in New Zealand captures our imagination

  1. Zac
    January 9, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Wow that’s cool Debbie! Not something I’d read about in New Zealand before haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. January 9, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Very interesting toilet block Deb. I do like the colours. I think I have only seen one like this at Darling Harbour Sydney many years ago. I don’t think it’s there anymore. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. January 9, 2018 at 11:26 pm

    Oh wow!! That’s amazing. I think you should do a new feature ‘Toilets From Around the World!’ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 10, 2018 at 6:38 am

      I was thinking the same thing and I just happen to have a few more I can share!! Thanks Shelley 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. January 10, 2018 at 12:59 am

    I just finished reading another post on New Zealand. Perhaps a sign to visit soon. I love those glass bottle walls. Fabulous. 🌼

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      What a great idea to plan a visit! I’d go again in a heartbeat, there’s so much to see and do there. The glass bottle walls were beautiful 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. rachaelstray
    January 10, 2018 at 1:40 am

    I’ve never heard of these toilets before. I bet the colours were so vibrant in real life. Thanks for doing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. January 10, 2018 at 3:30 am

    Wow, that is incredible. Our city council spends money on such stupid things, toob ad they wouldn’t do something like this. Maybe not the inside, but the outside.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. January 10, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Deb, Happy New year. I love the black and white tiled walls. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 10, 2018 at 8:58 pm

      Happy New year to you too Louise, all going well with you? Thanks the whole place was very different!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. January 10, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Okay, Deb, this is fascinating, but I want to know how you can personally vouch for functionality of both male and female toilets. Are you hanging around in the men’s room?? Haha! That is quite an art display. We have a new restaurant near us and it is nicely decorated but the bathrooms are spectacular. When we recommend the restaurant to friends we always say, “Be sure to check out the toilets!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      I love that your recommendation include checking out the toilets!! I can assure you I wan’t hanging around the men’s room, the Mathematician was a great help in this regard 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. January 11, 2018 at 1:24 am

    Every time i see something on NZ I realize that I still need to explore that part of the world and this post is one reason why!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Maybe we’re all trying to tell you something Carol! Come visit me 🙂


  10. January 11, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Glad you discovered our most famous loos! There’s to be a Hundertwasser-themed arts centre built in Whangarei soon. I’ve seen concept sketches and models; it looks good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      I wondered if you knew about these toilets Su, they were fantastic! The arts centre sounds great, I’m so pleased they’re honouring his talent.

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        Me too. It will really help boost tourism in Whangarei and surrounding area. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. January 11, 2018 at 6:04 am

    Wow! That’s some real dedication for public toilet!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      It is a great effort isn’t it Herlina?? Thanks for your comment and stopping by my blog 🙂


  12. January 11, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    Wow, how cool is that…I love anything this… Quirky and fun…Great picures 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Carol, I love finding this sort of thing too whenever we travel. It’s certainly a fun place to visit!

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        You are welcome Debs..I found some cool signs here made out of nuts and bolts etc but I think these top that…I am a quirk fan x

        Liked by 1 person

  13. January 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Reblogged this on Retired? No one told me! and commented:
    I love quirkiness as you probably know and these Toilets or Hong Nam in Thai are so quirky…I love them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 11, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing my post Carol, I really appreciate it! I hope others enjoy the quirkiness of them too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. January 11, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    So, I am guessing he designed this toilet block so h would have something interesting to look at while conducting business?

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 12, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      I really don’t know Trudy but that’s as good a guess as any! I think his creative mind worked in mysterious ways 🙂


  15. January 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    OMG! These are amazing. Should my Amanda character travel to New Zealand (and I do hope she does) I must include these toilets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 12, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Oh indeed she should both visit New Zealand and these toilets! Thanks for joining in the conversation Darlene 🙂


  16. January 12, 2018 at 1:08 am

    I followed you over from Carol’s blog. Believe it or not, I just read another blog post about toilets in a private home. I’m sure it looks nothing like the avant garde photos posted here. Wow!

    We found similarly contructed toilets in Ukraine, but never showcased as an artistic installation. What a find!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 12, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Marian, it’s great to have you along! I’m so glad you popped over from Carol’s blog 🙂 These were very interesting toilets and so colourful and clever. They are a great tourist attraction now too which helps the little town continue to survive.

      Liked by 1 person

    January 12, 2018 at 5:20 am

    Wow! That certainly is something I have never seen before. So fun and creative! Thank you for sharing this, Deb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 12, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      My pleasure Donna! I’m sure we all have a few interesting toilets we could share from our travels!


  18. January 12, 2018 at 10:42 am

    I love those toilets! They are so cool. We have some in Tas with murals and things but nothing as wonderful as these ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. January 12, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    The quirkiest loos I’ve ever seen. Another reason to go to NZ? 😏

    Liked by 1 person

  20. January 12, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    Oh wow! Toilets certainly don’t look like that here in the UK haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 13, 2018 at 9:11 am

      I know, we don’t have many like that here either! They’re definitely a bit different aren’t they, but well worth sharing!!


  21. January 15, 2018 at 10:00 am

    New Zeland is the next place we want to go. When we went to Australia, we didn’t think of visiting New Zeland. Those toilets make me smile, or laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

      New Zealand is a great place to visit Miriam, you’d love it I’m sure. So many different things to do and see, gorgeous countryside and lovely people. I’m happy my toilet post made you smile, it was too good a place not to share. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

        I’ve seen a lot of street arts but arts in toilet is such a novelty idea. Thanks for sharing, Debbie!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. January 15, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Not a huge fan of public toilets but if you have to go then this one is at least interesting! Thanks for sharing at #overthemoon Deb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 16, 2018 at 8:13 am

      I know what you mean Sue, there’s dodgy ones everywhere but I’m happy to say these were brilliant in all ways!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. January 15, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    Great post, Debbie. What fascinating toilets, I love quirky things that make sense and are useful at the same time.


    Liked by 1 person

    • January 16, 2018 at 8:10 am

      Thanks Kathleen, they were the best display of quirkiness I’ve seen in quite a while!!


  24. January 16, 2018 at 11:23 am

    These are the coolest. I love me a pretty toilet.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. leannelc
    January 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    All I can say is “Wow!!” – not my cup of tea at all, but still very eye catching and definitely something tourists would love (and probably the locals too)

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 16, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      I like these ones much more than the one in today’s post!! These were quite clever and eye catching in a different way. Thanks for stopping by.


  26. January 16, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Explore Taiwan!.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. January 18, 2018 at 2:15 am

    Easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. The bottle windows are really, really cool and I adore the asymmetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. February 18, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    Tēnā Koutou! Looks like you had a lovely time in the land of the long white cloud!! I recently looked at some beautiful New Zealand architecture, which crosses over the traditional Māori culture and modern building techniques, would love for you to check it out! Happy Sunday 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Uncool Cycling Club
    May 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    OMG I have always loved Hundertwasser but I had no idea he lived in NZ for 25 years! Love all his work including these crazy toilets!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 18, 2018 at 4:39 am

      Wow! I’m glad you know of his work and these are well worth a visit!! Thanks for visiting my blog 😊


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