Don’t fight it. Deep inside your brain you know that you are a tourist. Eventually, a huge force of nature will suck you straight into a souvenir shop. Maybe you were tired, jetlagged, your guard was down, or perhaps due to an exceptional window display you never realised this was a tourist shop until it was too late! What to do now?
It is always nice to have a reminder of your trip to New Zealand or to bring something home for your friends and family, its entertaining sometimes to see what other people clearly think is de rigour as well! OMG! So have a look and wander around. Here are a few things that might help. We won’t talk about the usual stuff, yes, it’s all here. No shortage of New Zealand mugs with ‘New Zealand’, ‘Auckland’ or ‘Queenstown’ written all over them.
Below are a few things that stand out from the crowd. Baaaaa…
And if you buy something, consider if it can be:
- Local made
- Edible or consumable.
- And will it not end up in the waste stream?
Native New Zealand Products
New Zealand souvenir shops have a lot of skin & health care products – kiwi-style of course. New Zealand Manuka Honey creams, lip balms, soaps and oils. Manuka Honey products are made from the nectar of a native New Zealand plant with the name Leptospermum scoparium, or commonly called manuka. Manuka honey is rare and different to other honeys because of the unique ingredients of the manuka flower’s nectar.
The honey itself is delicious as well as having credible anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. But make sure you are buying from a credible (New Zealand) supplier as there are plenty of counterfeit products out and about - especially in Asia where it is out of sight of the New Zealand authorities.
Other than manuka honey products, you’ll see healthcare products made from kiwifruit, lanolin, Rotorua thermal mud and several of New Zealand’s native flowers.
Plenty of souvenirs with the famous New Zealand icon: the kiwi bird. This unique and curious bird is unique to New Zealand. Although you’ll see them everywhere, as statues, on clothing or on coffee mugs, to see the real kiwi bird living in the wilderness is quite a challenge. Luckily for you, there are many more native birds that you can spot, like the fantail bird (in Maori called pīwakawaka), tui or the mountain parrot (kea).
Not to be missed in this list are souvenirs with New Zealand’s original symbol: Cyathea Dealbata, or the Silver Fern. Since the 1880s it has been the symbol of New Zealand’s national rugby team. Nowadays the silver fern is the country of origin symbol and is carried by many of New Zealand’s top tourism companies. Therefore, tourists will find this native New Zealand plant ‘logo’ on a lot of different items. In fact, if you flew with New Zealand’s national airline Air New Zealand, you most likely saw the fern adorn the planes.
Other unique symbols to the country are the many different Māori motifs. Māori are the first nation people of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Māori souvenirs such as jewellery have many different symbols and designs. You can find all sorts of necklaces, earrings and bracelets with many different meanings. Here are a few you may see:
One of the most popular Māori symbols is tiki. This symbol is meant to keep evil spirits away, however some believe the Māori god tiki was considered responsible for the creation of life, and is therefore symbolising their cultural identity.
The fish hook stands for good health, power, prosperity and respect for the sea. It is also a good luck charm and Māori believe it provides safety while travelling over water.
The single twist is symbolizing a strong connection between loved ones for eternity. It is a powerful statement for love, loyalty and friendship. It’s a powerful expression of loyalty because the arms of the twist have no end point, just like lifelong relationships.
Koru is the Māori word for ‘loop’ and is symbolic for new beginnings, growth, rebirth and peace. The spiral shaped symbol refers to ‘going back to the beginning’.
The whale tail expresses the respect for the sea and nature. Māori consider whales as the most important animal in life and they believe muri paraoa stands for speed, strength and success.
Are you still stuck in that souvenir shop? Still can’t find anything? Feel the need to run? Buy a postcard and go! Pretend you totally meant to come into this shop to get a postcard.
People love postcards, they really do.