We all love mistranslated menus and hilarious signs on holiday, don’t we? The main source seems to be SE Asia where funny Chinese signs have their own pages on Buzzfeed and get shared as much as cat pictures. But what about baffling signs from a small Antipodean English-speaking country?
The oddity of signs and placards in New Zealand are part of the charm of the place. I mean where else can you find a memorial plaque to a robin? (albeit a rare black robin that saved its species to extinction).
New Zealanders adore signs. In a country as thinly populated as theirs, a sign seems to be a way of communicating to a stranger that, although you can’t see any hint of civilisation for miles around you, you can be comforted in the knowledge that someone sometime was also here and left a written message for you. In the form of a danger sign.
But that is not the only reason. New Zealand is a right-on society like no other. It’s a place where the authorities don’t want any citizen to die a death worthy of inclusion in the Darwin Awards. They seem to feel a responsibility to protect the most stupidly suicidal person from dangers real, invented or imagined. Given that the country is the safest place on Earth in terms of wildlife (there is the katipō, a mildly venomous spider, and that’s it) theirs is an uphill struggle.
Plus there is the renowned Kiwi humour which makes for some great signs.
Some signs are confusing in the English-to-English translation
Some signs belong to the “Are You Serious?” category.
Some signs remind you that in New Zealand places can double up for many functions.
Finally, some signs are plainly baffling
So go and enjoy New Zealand and its signs, because you won’t see any graffiti..