21 September 2021 | Written by Bachcare Holiday Homes

The Story Behind the Cardrona Bra Fence

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Cardrona Bra Fence

cardrona bra fence
Credit: Flickr

If you’re making your way to Otago, you won’t want to miss the Cardrona Bra Fence. Along this fence on a Cardrona horse and bike business, you’ll find bras of all patterns and sizes.


How Did the Cardrona Bra Fence Start?

No one is sure who started hanging bras along this famous fence, although rumor has it that it was a group of Wanaka women. One fateful day between Christmas 1998 and New Year’s Day 1999, four bras appeared hanging from a fence along Otago’s Cardrona Valley Road.

The fence quickly became a famous attraction among tourists and Otago locals. By February 1999, the fence boasted over 60 hanging bras.


Controversy

bra fence in cardrona
Credit: Wikicommons

Some found the fence offensive. An unknown bra fence antagonist began cutting bras away from the fence at some point around February 1999. Bra fence enthusiasts responded by hanging even more bras from the fence, which by October 2000 contained over 200 bras.

Yet again, someone removed the bras from the fence. Some locals claimed the fence was an eyesore. Still, others argued that visiting Japanese students could find the fence offensive, and the bras should not be left hanging.

Not to be dissuaded, even more individuals responded by again hanging bras from the fence. Legal battles ensued with the Wanaka Community Board, with some locals opposed to the fence while others defended it as a popular and colorful tourist attraction.

The fence’s unofficial caretaker John Lee, an Otago sheep farmer, came to the defense of the bras. Lee claimed that he received many letters regarding the fence and that over 90% were positive. With the support of Lee and the many individuals who continued to hang bras along the fence, the attraction only grew.

In addition to claims that the fence was an eyesore, some locals were concerned that the popularity of the fence was creating a traffic hazard, as onlookers were stopping along the highway to view the fence, take pictures, and hang bras of their own. 

The Wanaka Community Board agreed, ordering the removal of bras from the fence in April 2006, by which point the fence had grown to contain over 800 bras.

In response, a group of locals in nearby Wanaka attempted to create the world’s longest bra chain at an annual Wanaka community festival. They succeeded in creating a very long chain containing around 7,400 bras but fell short of the world record, which was around 100,000 bras longer. They did however manage to raise over $10,000 for charity.


Current State of the Fence

Bra Collection! | Michael Coghlan | Flickr
Credit: Flickr

Following all the controversy, the Cardrona Bra Fence location was moved to a local bike and horse business owned by Kelly Spaans and Sean Colbourne. In 2015, locals rebranded the fence to the name “Bradona.”

Today, hundreds of colorful bras adorn the fence. The property owners installed a donation box along the fence and have raised over $30,000 for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

Given the popularity of the Cardrona Bra Fence, it is no surprise that similar fences have appeared in other locations around the country, including in Nelson, Tapawera, and Wairarapa. However, none can compare to the original in Otago.

If you are visiting Otago, feel free to leave a bra or two of your own along the fence, which is open to additions at any time. If you do not want to give up the bra you are wearing you can mail a bra to the fence’s caretakers at 2125 Cardrona Valley Road, RD1, Wanaka, 9381. 

They promise to add it to the fence. And do not forget to leave a donation in the bright pink box when you visit to support breast cancer research and prevention in New Zealand.


FAQ

Below, find answers to the internet’s most commonly asked questions on this fascinating topic.

What is the Cardrona Bra Fence location?
The famous bra fence is located at the horse and bike trekking business of Kelly Spaans and Sean Coulbourne along Cardrona Valley Road in Otago.
Can I add a bra to the fence?
Absolutely! Anyone can add to the fence when visiting. If you do not want to give up your bra at the time you visit, mail it to the fence’s caretakers using the address above?
What is the purpose of the fence?
While no one knows why the bra fence was started, today it exists to attract visitors to the area and to raise funds for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation.

Conclusion: Staying in Cardrona

Ready to visit the Cardrona Bra Fence? Book a holiday home with Bachcare. Rest assured that with Bachcare, you are supporting the local community in Cardrona. What’s more, Bachcare offers a locally-based support team, live customer service 24-hours a day, and instant, secure booking online.

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