Auckland's 'creepy' Christmas icon, a giant Santa statue which towered over Queen St for almost 60 festive seasons, has been spotted in his retirement - looking a little worse for wear.
The 18-metre Santa Claus gave up the reins to his sleigh last year, luring Auckland's festive shoppers to Farmers for a final season in 2019. In November 2020, it was revealed that Santa was on his way to Wanaka to officially begin his retirement at the National Transport and Toy Museum.
Yet on Monday, a clip shared to the popular video-sharing platform TikTok appeared to show a not-so-jolly Santa still in pieces from his journey to the south, languishing in an outdoor pit.
"Old Santa", reads the caption, alongside a crying emoji.
One TikTok user commented: "They told Aucklanders he was going to a museum in Wanaka, not a land [fill]."
However, fans of the iconic Christmas decoration have nothing to fear, with an employee confirming to Newshub that Santa is definitely at the National Transport and Toy Museum - but isn't quite ready to be on display.
The employee said he needs a new coat of paint before he's ready to become a relic, adding that the statue is currently being kept outside the museum due to his size.
The giant ornament had long polarised residents. Throughout Santa's 60-year tenure at his Auckland City post, he was often dubbed "creepy", his beckoning finger earning him Cracked.com's 'world's most unintentionally creepy Christmas decoration' title in 2011. The finger later got the chop.
In 2019, Santa's former owner, Heart of the City, confirmed to Newshub it was costing more than $200,000 a year to maintain and insure the Christmas icon.
Santa was first installed on the Hobson St Farmers building in 1960.