All New Zealanders will instantly recognise this classic example of kiwiana architecture as the iconic ‘long drop’.
These sheds are most commonly located at beaches (if you’re lucky), on lake fronts, golf courses, on the outskirts of bush and sometimes deep within the bush.
The long drop serves a practical purpose. Let’s call it the ‘small room away from home’, or in simpler terms, the outdoor dunnie.
Most long drops are built of corrugated iron (as pictured) and have one hinged door of sorts. The door might not necessarily reach the ground – or the roof. Some close with the help of a sliding bolt, or a hook latch – others swing freely.
There are no windows.
There is no lighting.
Once the door is closed, you’re in the dark, guided only by smell. Take one step forward and you’ll reach a bench upon which sits a familiar (if you can see it) toilet seat. Some might have covers – others do not. Beneath is a long dark hole.
There is no plumbing in a long drop – hence the name. After positioning yourself over the seat (I’m a girl!), and once action has been initiated, it’s a long drop. I don’t know if there’s a standard length of drop or what happens when there’s no drop. Neither of these are questions I’ve ever thought to ask.
When you’re desperate, you really don’t care. (There’s another way of phrasing that, but I’ll resist indulging in toilet humour.) As a child, and even as an adult the aim of the exercise is to get in and out of there in the shortest time possible. You don’t linger in a long drop.
Some things never change – but I do think the smart green coat of paint and the flowering vine at the Lions Walk long drop are nice touches.