Kawakawa, gateway to the Bay of Islands is home to the king of all public conveniences, the Hundertwasser toilets. A brightly coloured archway heralds the entranceway to this New Zealand North Island town. Drive down the the main street and similar, fantastically sculptured columns beckoned to the toilets themselves.
Internationally renowned artist, ecologist and architect, Freidrich Hundertwasser's love for his adopted town Kawakawa brought him out of his reclusive lifestyle to build the public toilets, which were completed in 1999.
A bunch of leaflets, held in a delightful silver sculpture outside the ladies, reveals that the Austrian born artist visited the site every day during construction and that this was the last project he undertook and the only structure built by him in the Southern Hemisphere.
The mosaic tiling, copper handwork, sculptures and cobblestone flooring are marvelous. A sneak peek into the no-mans-land of the male-female divisions show innovative artistry on the other side.
Hundertwasse toilets. Courtesy Northland Tourism
Freidrich Hundertwasser was an eco-friendly architect and he used old glass bottles and reclaimed bricks from a former Bank of New Zealand building for the project.
A living tree is integrated into the structure and tufts of native grass adorn the roof - a fitting crown for this king of toilets whose golden orbs add a final regal touch.
Other little hidden gems around the town hint at its creativity and artistic plans for the future.
Little railway carriage tiles pave a route on the footpaths, brightly coloured pottery columns and mosaic tiled shop fronts - and an adobe bench seat with tiny mirrored glass and curvaceous bricks that look like plump cushions.
Clay, sand newspapers, pots and local coal were incorporated into the construction of this community project, marking Kawakawa's history as a coal mining town.
The railway tiles are of course a reflection of the historic railway, whose tracks run through the centre of town. Kawakawa is in fact the only town in New Zealand to boast a railway track through the centre of the commercial area.
The Hundertwasser toilets are a comfort stop not just of convenience then, but of charm and frivolity.