There’s no better way to take the New Zealand experience back home than a traditional souvenir.
No matter where in the country you end up, you’re going to find a special artifact to hold onto. From beautiful art to iconic cultural relics, we’re going to showcase six of the most memorable pieces you can buy.
1. A Buzzy Bee Toy
This cultural icon has been around since the 1930s. Its exact origins are a bit of a mystery, but everyone loves it all the same. The Buzzy Bee is a wooden toy that’s popular with local kids, Kiwi adults, and tourists alike. You’ll find it in most standard souvenir shops, as well as any nearby toy store.
2. Traditional Pounamu (greenstone) jewelry
Pounamu, or New Zealand greenstone, is an important part of Māori custom. Not only is it viewed as a sacred treasure, but there are also many stories based on its origins. The stone’s beauty is what led to its artistic use: nowadays you can find sculptures, ornaments, and jewelry carved out of it. The stone itself is only found in the South Island, but Ponamu souvenirs can be purchased in most New Zealand towns.
3. A woven flax kete
Usually about the size of a tote bag, a kete (basket) is made primarily with New Zealand flax leaves. These leaves are strong enough to be used for making mats as well – and Māori weaving is still a tradition that holds true to this day. Patterns woven into the basket include natural motifs and special symbols, passed down within local iwi (tribes) from generation to generation.
4. A carved sculpture
Wood carving is another long-held Māori tradition. Travelers will see this when they visit a Marae or any other indigenous site that they go to. Souvenir buyers wanting to splurge on something special should definitely keep their eye out for wooden sculptures. Once again, they’re not hard to come by, but their artistry may come with a larger price tag than our previous suggestions.
5. Paua shell ornaments
Paua is a blue-colored shell that has been used in native New Zealand art for centuries. Similar to Pounamu, they’re found in the deepest South Island waters – and not too far from the Antarctic. The cold oceans give the shell its special, light-changing tones, and many ornaments and jewelry are made with this natural stunner.
6. Merino wool clothing
Let’s face it: no New Zealand souvenir list would ever be complete without mentioning woolen apparel. Merino sheep are renowned for having some of the softest fleece around – with some of their fibers comparable to luxury materials like cashmere. You’ve likely come across a large collection of merino clothing during your travels, including cozy jumpers, gloves, and beanies. If you’re feeling a bit crafty, you can even stock up on some yarn and knit something yourself.