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The Best Bathroom in The World - Kawakawa Bay of Islands NZ

Updated on February 9, 2013
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Kawakawa, New Zealand
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An Introduction To Kawakawa

Kawakawa is a small township on the cusp of The Bay of Islands in the Northland Region of New Zealand’s North Island.

With a population of fewer than 2,000, it is perhaps not where you would expect to find the best bathroom in the world!

Having visited Kawakawa in the early 1980’s, it was solely known as “Train Town”.

I boarded Gabriel the train without a care in the world, or knowledge that there was soon to be another landmark in Kawakawa that would be bringing worldwide focus and acclaim, the Hundertwasser toilets, so named after Freidensreich Hundertwasser.


First Sighting

When you are driving through town, as soon as you see the zebra crossing, you know you have arrived at the bathroom (if you haven’t spotted it already!).

The best place to take a photo of the outside design work and detail is from the middle of the road, not easy with traffic and the surprisingly quiet Gabriel travelling through.

Looking at these public toilets, tufts of grass seem to be growing from the roof, mosaic tiles, copper and metal sculptures, cobblestone detail and glass bricks are all intermingled in a collage of abstract brilliance.

At first impressions it reminds me of the great Antonio Gaudi’s mosaic works but it really is Art of a very different nature.

Hundertwasser in NZ in 1998
Hundertwasser in NZ in 1998 | Source
Quixote Winery, Napa Valley, USA
Quixote Winery, Napa Valley, USA | Source

Freidensreich Hundertwasser

Born in Vienna, Austria in 1928, his birth name was Friedrich Stowasser. During his early years he saw much hardship during the second world war as his mother was Jewish.

Having lost his father at a very early age, mother and son posed as Christians with Freidensreich even joining the Hitler Youth as a cover. After the war he showed an artistic talent whilst studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and decided to change his name to Freidensreich Hundertwasser and signed his bold vivid paintings as such.

His is an Artist that is unique and cannot be compared as he is an Artist, Ecologist and Architect. He is quoted with saying that straight lines were “the devils tools” and championed curves in his organic works with undulating floors and vegetation.

He is most widely known for his architectural designs and buildings, predominantly in Germany and Austria. His work includes no less than 17 buildings including the Quixote Winery, Napa Valley, USA. The Hundertwasser toilets are the only southern hemisphere example of his genius.

His love affair with New Zealand began in the 1970’s on a trip to exhibit his Art. He fell in love with the beauty and the laid back informality of the Bay of Islands and bought an isolated property on the Waikino peninsula, where he was to spend more and more time through the years. He died at sea aboard the RMS QE2 in 2000; a year after this highly controversial contemporary genius finished the Kawakawa toilets.

Bathroom Interior


Bathroom Etiquette


From an Idea to a Reality

In 1998, Kawakawa Community Board decided it was time to revamp the 40 year old public toilets in the town centre. Hundertwasser offered up an idea from his creative palette.

It began with his idea that a toilet and a church were interlinked and said “A toilet is a place in which to meditate” – just as a church is. Hundertwasser was hired and oversaw all the design and construction work, providing much of the materials himself from his own eclectic studio.

In conjunction with The Bay of Islands College, he enlisted the help of the students in making ceramic tiles which may be seen throughout the building. He recycled bricks from a former Bank of New Zealand building.

Volunteers from the community assisted in the completion of the project. A dawn opening ceremony saw the Hudertwasser toilets open. Amazingly, they had been made deliberately with uneven floors, recycled materials, crooked poles and landscaped nature which included a living tree!

Without doubt, this masterpiece of ingenuity will be the most unusual work of art you will ever see!

Artist, Ecologist or Architect?

the entrance showing the varied materials used
the entrance showing the varied materials used | Source

Well worth a watch - showing other amazing buildings and art by Hundertwasser

In The Spotlight of The World

Little did Hundertwasser know how his public toilets would achieve worldwide recognition.

In a tiny “off the beaten track” town that many travellers did not know and many would have missed on their way to the Bay of Islands in NZ.

Kawakawa is now a firm “must see” destination, attracting bus loads of tourists annually, eager to see this work of art.

Thousands of International and Domestic visitors familiar with the artist, make the trip specifically to see the toilets each year.There has even been television documentaries made for Japanese and French television.

The vision and inventiveness of this creative award winning Austrian gave us the world’s most unusual bathroom without question and in this authors opinion, the world's best bathroom!

Quickie Quiz -

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Author Info -

See more about the author, her bio and full body of work @ Suzie HQ

Credit to homestedbound -

All dividers used in this hub are used with permission granted on hub, Creating Dividers to Use on Your Hubs

The Best Bathroom in The World Contains a Living Tree


The Best Bathroom In The World - Kawakawa Bay of Islands NZ Comments

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    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi cathie,

      Delighted you enjoyed this, appreciate your support and comments!

    • cathie bridges profile image

      Hamza Arshad 4 years ago from Pakistan


    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi pstraubie,

      Many thanks for dropping by and so glad you enjoyed this amazing art / ecologically built bathroom! His other works around Europe and in California are extraordinary too. Appreciate your interest greatly!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      One reason I love HubPages is that I have at my fingertips such interesting articles to read. Like this one, for example. I did not know of this artist nor of this amazing bathroom. But now I do, thanks to you. thanks for sharing...

      Sending Angels to you again today :) ps

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Peanutritious,

      Glad you were able to see the bathroom by Hundertwasser. The video shows his other buildings so do take a look if you didn't already. They are AMAZING!! Thanks for the great feedback! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Peggy,

      Thanks so much! Gaudi has always inspired me in my own art and these toilets are just incredible!!

      Great story from you about the Quixote Winery - It's a small world isn't it !! Many thanks and much appreciation for you lovely comments, great votes and sharing!! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi MJ,

      Hi my friend! Good to hear you enjoyed aspects of this bathroom! You and billybuc and your flat floors and straight lines!!! Gotta push the boat out now and again! Appreciate your great comments, votes and shares!! :-)

    • Peanutritious profile image

      Tara Carbery 5 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      Wow! I want my bathromm to look like that! I had heard of Hunndertwasser before and have some postcards of his paintings, i'd never seen this before though. Beautiful!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Very interesting article about unique architecture that does remind me of some of Gaudi's work as seen in Park Guell. If you have not seen that park in Barcelona...check out my hub on that topic.

      Small world! That Quixote Winery is right next door to Napa Winery owners whom we know at Shafer Winery. It has been many years since we have visited them and at the time that unique building had not yet been built.

      Up votes and sharing. Really enjoyed seeing all of the fabulous colors and artistry of this man's creations!

    • profile image

      mjkearn 5 years ago

      Hi Suzie

      What fabulous colours and designs. Love the tree growing through the roof.

      I have to confess though I'm with Billybuc and floors have to be flat.

      I'd fall over pee-ing on a hill.

      Fab hub. Voted, ticked and shared.


    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Glimmer Twin Fan,

      Always great to receive your comments. I would think if there had been a building (as this was literally just a bathroom!) it would be amazing as his other large buildings are pretty unreal. Appreciate your comments!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Cool bathroom, and I bet the whole house is amazing. Interesting hub!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi teaches!

      It is quite a piece of work and so original. Hunderwasser was quite a craftsman. The uneven floors and no straight lines is an amazing concept for an architect and my partner thinks sooo wrong!! LOL The other buildings he designed in Europe are extraordinary, in the video! Thanks so much for your honesty and support, glad you found interesting!! :-)

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      What a crazy bathroom design! I get dizzy just looking at the photos. Still, I would like to see it up close and in person. Great topic and interesting.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Ajeet,

      It sure is that! Appreciate you taking the time to comment, thanks very much! :-)

    • AjeetKhurana profile image

      Ajeet 5 years ago from Mumbai, India

      Wow! That is one inspirational bathroom. :)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Prasetico!

      Hope all is good with you - Lovely to see you and I am delighted you enjoyed this different travel hub! An amazing architectural building which is so mis-matched it's a work of genius! Thanks as always for your genuine interest, support and votes! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Thundermama!

      That's great that you loved this! It is such a work of Art and if you want extra info on the artist check out Wikipedia as his life and works are fascinating! Appreciate your comments and votes soooo much my friend! :-)

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very informative hub. I had never heard about this before. But I really enjoy the virtual tour at Kawakawa and the bathroom pictures as well. Good job, my friend. Voted up!


    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      I so want to visit this bathroom and am thrilled to have been introduced to this Artist. fantastic hub, awesome pictures, voted way UP!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Cris Sp,

      Welcome and thanks for visiting and commenting! It is great to see such interest in this, I'm delighted you found the toilets amazing - Yes a bit weird, funky and a bit wild but hey - it is radical and it is a show stopper! Thanks for sharing, mucho appreciated :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Jeff,

      Ha! Forgot that ref may surface - you and the Irish Jacks!! Your a character for sure! Appreciate your comments and comic nature, glad it's on your bucket list - you won't forget it that's for sure! :-)

      Cheers for the sharing and votes my AP buddy!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi prettynutjob!

      Welcome to my world!!

      What a cool username and love that your from the land of choc chips!! lol Brilliant!

      Thanks so much for commenting, glad you found beauty in this crazy art that has rocked the world!!

      Thanks for your votes and humour here, much appreciated :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi vespa!

      Thanks for your mail, great info and looked into it and decided the way to go. Will be publishing hub later and will have links to some of your recipes included. Thanks for commenting here - I love this Art work, I know its not for everyone and that's the beauty of different tastes! NZ is gorgeous, my adopted home in many ways so if you get the chance to go I would strongly say GO! Awesome people, landscapes, food, outdoor lifestyle and so much more! Appreciate your support, help and encouragement also, my recipe guru! :-)

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Interesting! Indeed, art doesn't have to match. That's an amazing work - the man (Friedrich Stowasser) is brilliant and you're awesome. Thanks for sharing this.

      Fascinating hub!

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Wow, awesome hub Suzie, traveling to see that set of Jacks just made my bucket list, up and sharing.

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      How cool, amazing artwork found in a bathroom; now to say something I thought I would never say "What a pretty toilet", voted up and more.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      How interesting! Famous toilets! Hundertwasser's artistic revamp is fascinating. I love all the bright colors and quirky style. The style reminds me of your recycled garden containers hub. What an interesting place to visit. I hope to be in NZ someday so I can have the opportunity. Great hub, Suzie, and a great start on the apprenticeship program!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill!

      LOL . . ..yep I guess that's me, toilet humour . . .full of s****, LOL You bring out the worst ( and Best!!) in me Bill.

      My partner is probably more with you than me on this one Bill! He finds it above bizarre, crazy, wacky and can't understand uneven floors and straight lines he says ARE NOT devils tools but a much needed tool!

      I love it and find the man behind it fascinating, after doing some research. He has created some amazing buildings in the world that I totally love.

      Maybe it is his resemblance to Gaudi (one of my artistic inspirations) or maybe it's the setting in NZ, the rebellious side to Hundertwasser or the bright vivid colours . . . . . I think, though, it's a bit of everything!

      Thanks Bill so much, you are such a joy to read, follow and have read my own work!

      Thanks buddy, I have pinteresrt now, so will going back to pin my fav Bill moments!! :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rebecca!

      Great to see you, appreciate your comments!

      NZ is such a beautiful country, I spent just over a year there and would certainly go back. Bay of Islands, in the north I loved, spending a week there. I know the bathroom won't be everyone's cup of tea but I find it such a work of art!

      Thanks for your layout comments - good to know it looks and reads ok!

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Crystal!

      Great to see you again! LOL Hope this gave you some inspiration for your new bathroom!!!! Thanks for commenting and votes - always great to receive Crystal :-)

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rajan,

      Delighted you found this work Interesting and see the genius of Hundertwasser. Appreciate your kind words, votes and shares as always my friend!! :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! Only you could make a hub about a toilet sound interesting. LOL What a wild place; I got dizzy looking at the could I ever stand there and pee without falling down?

      Great fun Suzie! Thanks so much for the crazy tour!


    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 5 years ago from Georgia

      Now I'm ready to redecorate my bathroom! LOL. Voted up.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very unusual, very innovative. I'm blown away by the genius of this man.

      Thanks for sharing, Suzie.

      Voted up, interesting and shared.

    • Rebecca2904 profile image

      Rebecca 5 years ago

      Interesting Hub! I've never been to that part of the world, so I guess that's just one more thing for me to see when I do get there :) I especially like the way you've set your Hub out, it's awesome :)