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The Loneliest Tree on Earth – A Fascinating Tale of Survival

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Sitka Spruce growing on New Zealand’s southernmost subarctic island, is the loneliest and most remote tree on Earth. Not only is it the only tree on Campbell Island, but the nearest other tree can be found over 200 kilometers away, on the Auckland Islands.

Located about 700 km south of Bluff, Campbell Island is one of the harshest places in the world. With strong winds blowing almost all year round, less than 600 hours of sunshine and only 40 days per year without rain, it’s not exactly an ideal place to live, which is probably why, except for occasional visits by research scientists, it has remained deserted for over half a century. Trees aren’t supposed to be growing here either, a fact made evident by the wind-tolerant shrubs and grasses covering the island, which only makes the thriving “loneliest tree on Earth” so much more impressive.

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New Zealanders Build Tiny Island to Circumvent Public Drinking Ban on New Year’s Eve

In order to avoid a liquor ban that was in effect during New Year’s celebrations, a group of resourceful New-Zealanders built their own tiny island  in an estuary on the Coromandel peninsula. This allowed them to enjoy a few drinks in peace as they were technically in “international waters”, and not subject to the public drinking ban.

Public drinking was banned on the entire Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand during New Year’s Eve celebrations, in order to deter violence, and would-be offenders faced fines of up to $250. Police reportedly patrolled on Saturday and Sunday to enforce the ban and make sure everyone got the message, but they couldn’t really do anything about a group of young revelers casually enjoying a drink or two on a small island that they had built themselves just a few feet from shore, in the town of Whangamata.

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Local Gang Cleans New Zealand Town of Drug Dealers

Tribal Huk, an ethnic gang from Ngaruawahia, a small town in New Zealand, took it upon themselves to rid their community of methamphetamine dealers, after seeing the local youth negatively affected by the synthetic drug. After giving offenders an ultimatum, the gang cleaned their town of meth dealers in just one weekend.

It all started on Thursday, October 13, when Jamie Pink, the notorious leader of the Tribal Huk gang gave methamphetamine dealers 24 hours to pack up and leave, during a local town meeting. He told attendees that his group had polled local children, and around 75% of them were affected in some way by methamphetamine, so they had decided it was time to take action.

“For a lot of years, the Huks have kept a lot of other gangs out of here in Ngaruawahia and we are always going to do that, but we haven’t kept their poison out of here. We are a bit sorry about that,” Pink said. “From this second on, without disrespecting, we know who they are – some of them are whanau (extended family), but they’ve got to go. They have 24 hours to stop. We ask nicely first, then they’ve got to go. We’ve got no choice. The kids are asking for it. They’ll be asked nicely the first time.”

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The $400,000 a Year Small Town Doctor Job That Nobody Wants

We’re used to reading about people struggling to find a decent job, or any job, really, but this story is about a small town clinic that has been unable to attract any applicants for a job that pays over $400,000 a year.

While the people of Norman Wells are struggling to find a hairdresser willing to move in and tend to their needs, another small town halfway across the world is dealing with an even more pressing problem. Tokoroa, town in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North island, is finding it hard to attract young doctors willing to work for a salary most people would kill for – $400,000.

Dr Alan Kenny, co-owner of Tokoroa Family Health clinic, has been trying rather desperately to fill the position of GP, but he hasn’t received a single application in four months despite the huge salary he’s offering. He’s also promising no weekend or night duties and co-ownership of the clinic, but that hasn’t gotten anyone interested either.

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Could You Live on the World’s Steepest Residential Street?

There are two things you need to have if you live on Baldwin Street, in the city of Dunedin, New Zealand – strong leg muscles and stamina! Locals claim that the 350-m long street holds the world record for the steepest in the world, and while this isn’t officially confirmed, it’s definitely believable – the street is so steep that it had to be laid with concrete, because asphalt would flow down the slope on a warm day.

Baldwin street has a maximum slope of 1:2.86, a 36% gradient. This means that for every 2.86 meters traveled horizontally, the street rises by one meter. That’s plenty of exercise for the residents of the residential suburb of North East Valley, where the street is located. The lower reaches are only moderately steep, but the upper reaches are hair-raisingly abrupt.

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New Zealand Campaign Offers Students Free Beer for Dead Rats

Gareth Morgan, a philanthropist from Wellington, New Zealand, has come up with a unique initiative to get rid of the city’s rats. He’s offering university students a free beer for every rat they manage to catch and kill. He’s even giving away rap traps. According to Morgan, rats are a common urban pest that are ruining the native ecology of the country. In fact, he’s so passionate about preserving New Zealand’s wildlife that he’s willing to personally sponsor all the free beers. “We’re trying to make an offer that students just can’t refuse, and we’re trying to get them to be our army,” he said.

Morgan is currently running the campaign in association with Victoria University’s Science Society. According to the Science Society president Jonathan Musther, “There are obviously people who get behind it for the drinks, but then there are a lot of ecology students who are very passionate about trapping and very passionate about New Zealand native flora and fauna.”

“The lure of freebies usually gets people along,” said one student. “But when they find out what they have to do they might be a bit deterred.”

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School Children Dress Up Dead Animals in Bizarre Competition

Fund-raising school competitions usually involve cake baking and sporting events, but at one particular school in New Zealand it’s all about dressing dead possums in funny outfits for a bizarre best dressed furry animal contest.

Looking at the photos taken at the Uruti School, on New Zealand’s North Island, you’d think this was a taxidermy competition, but in reality, the furry corpses were part of a weird display of dead possums, for a charity event. Basically, small children let their imagination run wild and tried to dress the furry critters as best they could. One was actually skinned to look like a posing boxer, while others sported bikini costumes and princess dresses. As you can imagine, the event enraged animal welfare groups who accused the school of encouraging cruelty to animals, but the teachers defended it saying it was “lots of fun”and that it helped raise $6,000 for the school.”There was an amazing crowd and it was lots of fun. Animals aren’t the only species who are dressed up after they die. We do it to humans too,” Principal Pauline Sutton told the Taranaki Daily News.

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The Unique Hot Water Beach of New Zealand

Can you imagine a beach where the water is actually hot? Seems unnatural, but there really is such a thing in New Zealand. Located on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula (about 175 km from Auckland),  Hot Water Beach got its name from the underground hot springs which filter up through the sand in between the low and high water tidal reaches. The beach attracts a huge number of tourists every year (approx. 130,000) and is one of the most popular geothermal attractions of the region.

What’s even more interesting than Hot Water Beach itself is the ingenious way people create their own spas at the beach. This generally happens in the two-hour time frame before or after a low tide. During this period, you can actually dig large holes into the sand at the beach, allowing hot water to escape to the surface. A hot water pool is created in the hole – a natural spa of sorts. The water gets as hot as 64C (147F). Several tourists bring buckets and spades with them, and later relax in the large hole of thermal water they dug out.

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The Story of the Cardrona Bra Fence

The Cardrona Bra Fence was one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in New Zealand. Located in Central Otago, it was admired by some, but considered an eyesore by others.

The famous fence was born on Christmas of 1999, when 4 bras were discovered hanging on the fence. Word spread fast and, by the end of February, 60 bras were dancing in the wind, at Cardrona. They were soon removed, but news of the Bra Fence spread fast and by the year 2000, over 200 bras covered the fence. Once again, the bras just disappeared, but by 2006 over 800 women underwear garments were hanging in the wind.

While some of the locals were grateful for this offbeat tourist attraction, some landowners found the Cardrona Bra Fence vulgar and made attempts to have it removed. Because it was located on public road reserve, the local council declared the fence a traffic hazard and ordered the bras removed.

Though it no longer exists, the story of the Cardrona Bra Fence won’t soon be forgotten and thankfully, there are some photos around the interwebs:

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