NZ towns putting themselves on the map

In box office terms, the Wellywood sign was a bit of a flop (Supplied)
In box office terms, the Wellywood sign was a bit of a flop (Supplied)

Timaru is the latest New Zealand city to try a rebrand to freshen itself up, but the powers that be have already dismissed "Timaz Hard" as an option.

And while that's now a suggestion relegated to the scrapheap by officials, it'll likely still be kept as the unofficial moniker whether anyone likes it or not.

Others have suggested new slogans or nicknames and while they haven't always been officially adopted, they've taken on a life of their own; entering the Kiwi vernacular like no well-executed marketing plan could ever do.

Let's take a look at some of the New Zealand's cities and towns which have had a go at putting themselves back on the map:

NZ towns putting themselves on the map
Wellington. The coolest little capital in the world; the seat of power for the country's government; New Zealand's movie-making mecca.

It's the latter which Wellington Airport tried to capitalise on, with the idea of putting a Wellywood sign reminiscent of its US namesake.

The battle for the hill seen prominently on the approach into the city began, and it lasted for years.

It was a cringe-worthy idea and subject to much debate, but after a public vote in 2011 the prime real estate went to a more classy design called 'Wellington -- blown away'.

Wellywood was blown out of the water, with only 3104 votes compared to 18,862 for the Wellington sign and 11,061 votes for the third option Eye of the Taniwha.

Playing to Wellington's famous winds, the sign sported on the hill at the entrance to Miramar has the letters 'o' and 'n' about to fly away.

NZ towns putting themselves on the map


The sign was changed to Vellington in 2014 as a promotional stunt for the vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, directed by Taika Waititi and set in Wellington.


NZ towns putting themselves on the map

Blenheim, in the heart of Marlborough, is wine country, producing some of the country's best and renowned across the world.

But to some residents in the small town at the top of the South Island, it's known as BoomTown or BeaverTown. The latter is rooted in history, with the town being flood-prone in the 1800s. BoomTown is used more commonly and with a slight tongue-in-cheek tone -- the region's roller derby team is even called the BoomTown Brawlettes.


Porirua can sometimes get a bad rap for being a town in the doldrums with not a lot going on. Sitting just outside Wellington city, Porirua tried to adopt the name of P Town as part of a wider makeover in 2012 aimed at enticing around 10,000 people to live to the city. 

It was a way to help bring life and positivity to the city of around 50,000 people, which had suffered, rightly or wrongly, from a negative public image.

NZ towns putting themselves on the map


The name P Town even had the backing of current mayor Nick Legget, despite the obvious connotations to the drug seen as the scourge of New Zealand.

"Some people think P Town is like pure methamphetamine, whereas obviously those who are younger have different connotations," he said at the time.

The name has a bit of a 'cool dad' vibe to it, and so does Mr Leggett who said he "totally owned" the moniker -- a very 'cool dad' thing to say. 


A local surf brand, Taranaki Hardcore, has become the unofficial motto and way of life for the region which prides itself on surf culture.

Taranaki Hardcore (or simply Naki Hardcore for the truly hardcore) is used mostly by people to take the piss out of themselves or others.

NZ towns putting themselves on the map


The brand was established by Nigel and Trish Dwyer in 1997 and makes clothing, accessories and surfboards.

The design brings together the region's main features -- Mt Taranaki, the surf and the Southern Cross encircled by barbed wire.  

Residents also use the term Taradise because well, have you been there?


No one can really tell when the term Rotovegas was first used or became a popular colloquial term for the Sulphur City, but it could go back to at least the 1980s.

The city, known to tourists and Kiwis for its smell and Maori culture, has taken its Rotovegas nickname to heart, even erecting a lookalike sign to Las Vegas in the US.

NZ towns putting themselves on the map


But unlike its glitzy counterpart, Rotorua doesn't actually have any casinos, just bars with pokie machines.

Rotovegas, or just Vegas, was mentioned in Craig Marriner's 2001 book Stonedogs, which was partly based in the city.

However, there are some suggestions the name came from a country music band set up in the city in the 1980s.

In any case, the locals have truly embraced it with the name generally being used in an affectionate manner.  

Christchurch was given the nickname Quake City after the earthquakes, but its OG name is the Garden City, still fondly thrown around today. In more modern times however, and with the increase in university students, nickname the Chur has become popular.

NZ towns putting themselves on the map


Hamiltron: City of the Future or The Tron if you're cool like that. Like Porirua, Hamilton also gets a bad rap (rightly or wrongly) but it is actually an urban metropolis boasting a throng of cafés, lively nightlife and the cool Hamilton Gardens.

Over the years, the city has had a number of slogans: Hamilton, More than you expect; Hamilton, where it's happening and just Hamilton with the 'on' in a different colour -- clever.

But what they probably didn't expect was that of all of those, The Tron would be the one to stick.

It appears the City of the Future tag came along during a slogan identity crisis and was coined during a radio competition in the late 1990s.

Since then it's become almost as ubiquitous as the city's actual name.

And it would seem that whatever the city's slogan might change to in future, The Tron will always be there -- that's something money can't buy.  

In the lower North Island you come across the lovely little town of Feilding -- voted New Zealand's most beautiful town 14 times in a row.

Feilding has the nickname Friendly Feilding, as a reflection of its people, with the younger generations shortening it to simply Filly.

Feidling is well known for its sale yards, once the largest in the country, and its Farmers Market on a Friday, as well as having no traffic lights in town (ideal for dropping phat laps around the clock tower).

Just up the road from Friendly Feilding is tropical Palmerston North, where the mighty Manawatu River winds through.

Palmerston North takes the nickname Palmy, for obvious reasons, but also the lesser known P-Naughty.

It's probably best left unsaid how the city gets this name, but let's just say it has a big university population and some notorious bars, complimented 24/7 by the Naked Pie Man (RIP to The Beer Baz and Melbas). Don't Google it.