The quaint town, on SH1 in the heart of the South Waikato, New Zealand, is home to great cafes, shopping and plenty of corrugated iron creations, making it not only a popular stopping place, but a destination in its own right.
Corrugated iron creations
A main attraction is the town's corrugated iron art; the information centre is housed in the renowned big dog and inside the sheep and ram is a wool shop and gallery. The corrugated iron art is designed and made by local man Steven Clothier, the son of Henry Clothier, who helped revitalise Tirau in the 1990s.
Steven, nicknamed the iron man of Tirau, has turned the town into New Zealand’s corrugated iron capital. His creations are all over town and each is individually handmade. Tīrau's penchant for corrugated ironwork extends to its new toilet facility where visitors can enjoy a unique photo opportunity - Keep an eye out for the various creations as you stroll around town.
Tirau Shopping and dining
Whether you’re looking for something special or just browsing, chances are you’ll find something of interest along Tirau’s Main Road.
The town’s extensive range of shops belies its size. There are antique and gift stores galore, a fabulous clock shop and boutique fashion stores. The Tirau Shell and Jade Factory, which has been running nearly 20 years, has a range of unique jewellery and souvenirs and is well known throughout the Waikato region.
Funky art and craft stores and the Honey Shop complete the line-up. The latter, on the edge of town, sells a variety of manuka honey goods, with product lines regularly being introduced. The shop also has a small cafe-style area, serving cakes, muffins, coffee and icecream.
There are plenty of other choices when it comes to dining. The Cabbage Tree, Poppy’s Cafés, Alley Cats Cafe and Settlers Inn, all on Main Road, are just some of the eateries offering light snacks and hearty meals ideal for weary travellers or shoppers.
Or you could stop for a drink at the Oxford Royal at the southern end of Main Road; Tirau's oldest business was used in the late 20th century as a staging post for travellers between Rotorua, Cambridge and Taupo. The building burned down in 1897 but was rebuilt.
Nearby the Okoroire Hotel offers another dining option, along with a golf course and the option for a soak in the natural Okoroire hot spring.