Meter Maids meet some Kiwis. Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia

The Queensland tourist bureau used to advertise their state with the slogan; “Queensland! Beautiful one day, perfect the next!” Back in the 1980s the Japanese found out about the place and heavy Japanese investment began. There was a lot of local resentment about the perception that the Japanese were buying up all the real estate. Many Queenslanders I knew back then liked to parody the tourist slogan with, “Queensland! Beautiful one day, Japanese the next!” The truth of the matter was that the Japanese were the fourth highest investors in Queensland. Third were the Americans; second were the English and first were the New Zealanders.

The Kiwis like it here in Surfers Paradise and yesterday as I was walking down Cavill Avenue (the main drag) I could hear that their accent almost everywhere. There are a lot of New Zealanders working in the stores and walking down the street as tourists.

Back in the mid 1960s a local businessman, Bernie Elsey, afraid that the local council’s plan to put parking meters on the streets would scare off trade, came up with the idea of creating the “meter maids”. The first meter maids were dressed in gold lame bikinis, wore tiaras and were paid by the local chamber of commerce. The function of the meter maids was to put money in parking meters that were about to expire so that shoppers wouldn’t get fined for over staying. Bernie’s idea was a huge sucess and the meter maids became a tourist attraction in their own right.

I had to laugh today when I went to the meter maid website and I saw; “Gone are the outdated tiaras, replaced by the sun-conscious and true Aussie Akubra hat ideal for our tropical climate, while Gold Lycra Bikinis with the occasional sequin have replaced the traditional lame bikini”.

A hat isn’t much of a help when most of your skin is still uncovered.

Instead of the meter maids being paid by the local business people, they are now “self funded”, which means that walk around the streets selling little tourist knick knacks and charging to have their photos taken. The days of putting money in the parking meters are well and truly over, as well.

So yesterday I was walking down the street, when I hear behind me, Kiwi accents, “hey look, it’s the meter maids!” Sure enough two of those legendary creatures were crossing the road. Immediately the meter maids were mobbed by some rather large Kiwis and I could see that the smallest meter maid looked quite scared. The poor things must get that sort of attention all the time. I took out my camera to record what was happening and one of the Kiwis saw me and said to his mates, “stand back bros, a guy wants to take a photo of the meter maids”, to which they all stood back, like the gentlemen they were, for me to take a shot. I explained to them I actually wanted a shot of them interacting with the women. Meanwhile the smallest meter maid pipes up with; “we’re self funded and we’d like a donation of $5 if you want to take a photo of us”. “Fair enough”, I thought and I handed over the money and got this shot.

Kiwis like meter maids..... a lot!

I came away from the experience thinking that being a meter maid was pretty hard work for very little money.

6 thoughts on “Meter Maids meet some Kiwis. Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia”

  1. Oh, I totally like the old idea of covering the meters for customers so they don’t get a ticket. Now, I guess, there are no more meters? Meter Maids in the US never look like that, I can tell you.

  2. ohmiGAWD that’s such a funny post. Starts off serious, thought we Kiwis were in for it for loving Queensland. One of my childhood friends lives there (among the thousands of fush n chup eaters in the area)…But the gold bikini thing? Random or what? I love that about Australia.

  3. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I don’t think twice about going topless at the beach… but I’m a little bothered by chicks in bathing suits going around town peddling nothing more than tits and ass. It’s like bringing the strip club to the streets. Way too Playboy bunny for me.

    However, I really like the concept of yore. When you look at the old pictures on their website, it looks like these girls had spunk – and they were serving a great purpose. I don’t have a problem with that.

  4. Pat

    Oh there are still meters. It’s just that the businessmen don’t want to fund the meter maids anymore.


    Yes us Aussies have our very own special type of tackyness.

    I’d never bag out the Kiwis, and you should know better than that………….. because most of them are too big and scary!


    It was a classic example of some women thinking that they could get by on just their looks and they ended up on the street selling knick knacks and being hassled by horny guys in the stinking heat. A delicious and tawdry irony.

    mmmmm….. maybe there is a god after all.

  5. Don’t worry Razz. I know you wouldn’t ‘bag out’ the Kiwis. You know the country too well. Hope you’re having a great break. BTW what sort of knick knacks do these girls sell?

  6. Epic

    Sorry for taking so long to answer but it’s been a total blur of holiday activities over the last week and I haven’t had time to answer everyone’s comments yet.

    The meter maids were selling things like postcards, firdge magnets, stubby holders and various other kinds of cheap tat.

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