There are several much loved historical sites in the 1860s gold rush town of Cardrona, New Zealand. But as Atlas Obscura reports, one of the strangest is – or was – the “Bra Fence“, which appeared over Christmas 1999. The reasons behind the controversial tourist attraction remain unknown, but it almost resembled a somewhat less sacred version of the mysterious Celtic votive offerings known as Clooties. It also inspired an effort to create a rather offbeat – unsurprisingly – world record, raising thousands of dollars in the process.
The Cardrona Bra Fence sprang seemingly from out of nowhere when four bras appeared by the side of a road to the southwest of Wanaka. Local landowners didn’t object and by February 2000 some 60 bras decorated the fence. When their anonymous removal (soon after) came to the attention of the New Zealand press, the coverage served as a viral marketing campaign and soon after, the bras were back en masse.
Media interest spread to Europe and the Cardrona Bra Fence once again became a popular, albeit controversial, place of pilgrimage for those travelling across New Zealand’s South Island. While some welcomed its presence, others saw it as an eyesore and an embarrassment that might insult foreign visitors to the country.
Legal efforts to remove the bras – and occasionally other forms of underwear – initially proved unsuccessful when local sheep farmer John Lee – the site’s unofficial guardian – claimed the bras were the most photographed attraction in the area. Ultimately, though, the local powers-that-be managed to declare the bra fence – which was situated on public land – a “traffic hazard” and succeeded in removing it.
Gone but not forgotten, the attraction inspired an attempt to create the world’s longest bra chain at a festival in Wanaka later that year. The event raised $100,000 for charity and reached 7,400 bras – an impressive feat, but still 100,000 short of the world record. Yes, there apparently is an official world record for the longest bra chain ever!