16 February 2022 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

Everyone Should Go to See the Sheep and Dog of Tirau

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The Sheep and Dog of Tirau – New Zealand’s Corrugated Kingdom

sheep and dog tirau
Credit: Wikicommons

Anyone traveling to Tirau, New Zealand, would be forever in regret if they didn’t tour the corrugated Dog and Sheep buildings that have made this little town famous.


The Sheep and Dog Origins

The dog and sheep buildings, Tirau, Waikato, New Zealand
Credit: Wikicommons

The big idea for the The Big Dog Information Centre came from the building’s landowner, John Drake. The Drakes and a local businessman Henry Clothier teamed up on the idea to create a complex to welcome the public with an information center, car park, and picnic area.

The now-famous Sheep and Dog buildings were originally constructed from 1996 to 1998, with world-renowned corrugated art by Steven Clothier. Thanks to his creations, Tirau has earned itself the undisputed title of “Corrugated Capital of the World”.

Numerous local artists have added to the interior décor of the buildings over the years, and today’s visitors can now enjoy the addition of the Ram building as well.


The Tale of the Town of Tirau

Tirau New Zealand Visitor Centre
Credit: Pixabay

The small town of Tirau is located in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. The name “Tirau” literally means: the place of many cabbage trees.

For centuries, the tiny town was farmland. It wasn’t until well after nearby train stations started bringing out-of-towners that there were any local stores to speak of. In later years, when the highway system was built, locals took an interest in sprucing things up a bit, and tourism was on everyone’s mind.

With a population of 804, anyone who spends enough time antiquing and peeking their heads in the charming local businesses is likely to meet every citizen.


Today’s Corrugated Characters

Tirau New Zealand Visitor Centre
Credit: Pixabay

The Sheep building is home to Tirau’s wool goodies, and the Dog remains the town’s information center. In 2016, the Ram building was added, but Clothier’s creations have been increasingly on demand since the late 90s. Tirau’s local church now serves as home to the Good Shepherd corrugated statue of Jesus, with a welcoming “3 nails + 1 cross = 4given”.


There Are Plenty of Places to Go in Tirau

Giant Corrugated Steel Sheep Tirau
Credit: Flickr

The central township of Tirau is a playground of family-owned cafes, restaurants, arts, antiques and treats for every imaginable interest. The kids will surely want to visit The Castle, a nearby toy museum to the town’s south. Speaking of museums, the Tirau Museum is a privately owned collection of items from WWI and WWII, antique tools and radios, petrol pumps, and a fascinating variety of agricultural, technological, and military items.

For anyone looking to play the perfect game of golf, 18 holes of pure joy await them at the Tirau Golf Club. Visit Poppy’s, a family-run café adorned with Tirau corrugated ‘Poppy’ art, or The Honey Shop for their all-day breakfast Café.

The Black Cat Gallery offers unique paintings and local crafts. My Style, NZ is Tirau’s embroidery, curtain, and fabric shop, and also treats guests to homemade soaps and toys. The Sheepskin Trader specializes in genuine sheepskin footwear.


Hiking and Biking for the More Energized Travelers

For those looking to take the beautiful nature of greater Tirau by foot, the Te Waihou walkway follows nature’s glorious path along the Waihou River. Visitors can hike or bike, taking the pace that they prefer.

For the even more outgoing, Riverside Adventures Waikato is minutes from Tirau, but the adventurous traveler will feel they’ve been transported away with multi-day packages for biking, hiking, and awe-inspiring kayaking.

Daytime kayak tours send visitors on a slow ride up the Pokaiwhenua Stream and over a submerged village. From late night into the evening, they’re transported to a visual fantasy of New Zealand’s titiwai glow worms lining their voyage.

Waikato offers bike trails, 3-5 day hiking tours, and wonderful journeys to satisfy the souls of adventurers of every age.


FAQ

Why are there Dog and Sheep buildings in Tirau?
They were built as a fun attraction for the town’s information center and other accompanying public resource centers. The idea has budded into a sensation across New Zealand and the world, making the corrugation artist Steven Clothier quite famous.
What are the buildings used for?
The Dog is Tirau’s Information Center, where visitors can pick up free maps, learn about the town’s history and check on the weather for surrounding adventures. The Sheep is home to a family-owned wool store.
Who created the Sheep and Dog art?
The Sheep and Dog of Tirau were created entirely out of corrugated iron by artist Steven Clothier.
Does the artist still create new works today?
Yes! Be sure to watch this video to see Steven Clothier’s corrugated art take shape from start to finish in his shop, Corrugated Creations.
What else is in walking distance from Tirau's Dog and Sheep buildings?
People love to visit the area for the surrounding cafes, artisan shops, and antiques. The Dog is the visitor’s perfect gateway to discover all that there is to do in Tirau and surrounding areas. Travelers are welcomed to find a place to stay, learn the local routes to nearby towns, and linger to their heart’s content.

Wrap Up

For such a small town, there’s plenty for everyone to do in Tirau. It may be the corrugated animal kingdom that leads people to discover this “population sub-1000” paradise, but it’s the wonderful window-shopping and breathtaking explorations that truly make it larger than life, so don’t wait to book the perfect spot:

Come and enjoy this small town with big ideas. The Sheep and Dog of Tirau will both be awaiting their newfound friends.

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