Are you looking for souvenir inspiration to bring back from New Zealand?
You’re in the right place. You’ll find that most posts about New Zealand souvenirs have the same ideas. I’ve got these but I have tried to include a few different ideas you won’t see everywhere.
You can sort of break these into various categories. Toys, clothing, booze, jewelry, and food. Something for all!
1. Buzzy Bee
This is a great gift if you’ve been in New Zealand while a new member of the family has been born, or there’s a youngster of some description you need to buy a present for. I was lucky enough to have a buzzy bee as a kid, as have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of kiwi kids.
It’s a simple toy, you pull it along, and the wings click. But that’s the beauty of it. The design has changed since the 1930s, but the core function remains unchanged.
You can find them sold in lots of places online, but when you’re in NZ, the best place to buy one is at The Warehouse.
2. Paua Jewellery
This is one of the unique New Zealand souvenirs that wows people when they first come across it. The blues, greens, and purples of the shell look amazing, but you’d never know it when you look at the paua underwater. The paua clings onto rocks, with its shell white on the outside.
The paua (the food part) is black with a strong taste, it’s something you should eat while you’re in the country, but it’s an acquired taste. The shiny part of the shell is on the inside of the shell. People who go out to collect paua to eat at home will often keep the shell as they look good, even before they’re made into jewelry.
3. Jade Necklace
You’ll no doubt experience the Maori culture in New Zealand. Getting a pounamu (a.k.a. jade and greenstone) necklace is one of the most popular New Zealand gifts which is a tribute to the culture. They’re available everywhere and as they’re intended to be a gift they make the best souvenirs. With the different Maori carvings having different meanings, you can get real personal with this.
4. All Blacks Jersey
If you or someone you want to buy a New Zealand souvenir thats wears sports jerseys, then you’ve probably already penciled in the All Blacks jersey as your gift from New Zealand. It’s one that people all over the world will recognise and makes a good conversation starter.
I’ve seen plenty of fakes too, particularly in Malaysia, where I find it funny as when I ask them where they got it, they have no idea (they’re fake).
5. Icebreaker Products
Merino wool is famous worldwide. One NZ company that has stuck around for over 20 years and produces high-quality adventure gear made from Merino wool is Icebreaker. They’re big on technical gear that works, not just one time, but for years. They admit the products are mot high-fashion, so you need to know that either you or the person you want to buy the products for appreciates a high-quality product over being Instagram worthy. Or just get them some Icebreaker underwear. Whatever works.
While you’re unlikely to stumble across people in the city running around in their gumboots, the footwear is a staple in rural New Zealand and most kiwi homes will have at least one pair of gumboots hiding in the house.
They’re essentially Wellington’s which were worn in Britain in the early 19th-century. In New Zealand we take our gumboots seriously. You can tell from the tribute song to gumboots from Fred Dagg above. But also, Taihape is the gumboot capital of the world and celebrates Gumboot Day every year.
The most kiwi gumboot is the one produced by Skellerup, known as the red band gumboot. Fortunately, you can buy them in over 500 places in NZ so you’ll be able to pick up a pair easy. Or six.
Stubbies a.k.a. short shorts went big in NZ and Australia in the 1970s, especially for tradies. Fast forward to today and they’re still going strong in both countries and it’s something I definitely notice when first arriving back home. They’ve expanded as casual summer wear now, and make for a good pair of sportswear. Head on into any sports shop like Rebel Sports, and you’ll find plenty to choose from. It’s acceptable for girls to wear stubbies too FYI.
Ah, the Swanndri. Another brilliant piece of fashion that kiwi males have adopted for decades. The Swanndri is a heavy woolen shirt with long sleeves and a hood. There are lots of different designs, but the most popular one is black and red with a checkered-like pattern. Mostly seen on farmers, you will see them worn in the cities on a cold day. You could get the man in your life the ultimate kiwi getup! A Swanndri, stubbies, and a pair of gumboots.
9. Wine and or Beer
New Zealand doesn’t have the capacity (or location) to expand anyone locally made beer and wine on a global scale. But that doesn’t mean we have good stuff. The craft beer scene has exploded since 2015, and the wine scene has started to pick up recognition globally. With wine, grab a pinot noir if you can, and grab any craft beer from the supermarket that looks good.
Or you could always go with the classic kiwi beer, Tui. It’s not craft beer, but definitely kiwi!
10. Of Course Snacks Make Solid New Zealand Souvenirs
With mukbangs becoming popular all over the worldwide, you might just have to have a private mukbang with friends and family trying all the New Zealand food at home.
There are lots of classic kiwi snacks unique to NZ (they may pop up in random stores from time to time).
- Hokey pokey ice cream: This is a simple one. It’s regular vanilla ice cream with little balls of honeycomb toffee throughout the tub. It’s delicious!
- Jaffas: Jaffas have been around the 1930s and are still found in supermarkets today. They’re little orange balls with a soft centre. Beware: on a hot day, they melt super quick and your hands will be orange in no time.
- Lemon & Paeroa: Better known as L&P, it is a lemon flavoured carbonated drink. The original L&P was made in Paeroa (hence the name) with lemon and carbonated water. It’s now manufactured by Coca-Cola, but the legend lives on in Paeroa with a large L&P sculpture.
- Manuka Honey: Manuka Honey has a superfood trend going for it at the moment, with the supposed antibacterial properties re driving force (not scientifically proven as of early 2019). The nectar comes from the manuka tree, with a specific flavour profile. Make sure to source genuine manuka honey. There are plenty of people trying to take advantage of its popularity.
- Whittakers Chocolate: Grab a big block of this chocolate from the supermarket to take home. It’s way better than any Cadbury chocolate. I recommend the dark ghana peppermint flavour. Another option is to get Whittaker’s peanut slabs, a classic.
- Pineapple Lumps: A kiwi lolly (candy/sweet) seen on shops shelves around the country. They’re made with a thin chocolate shell with a pineapple flavoured inside (they’re said to be soft in the inside but I find them tough and chewy). This is one that gets lots of people who aren’t a fan of this one.
- Chocolate Fish: Like the pineapple lump, this has a thin layer of milk chocolate on the outside but with a soft marshmallow center. They aren’t massive, and there does seem to be good and bad chocolate fish out there. But it has always been a feelgood kiwi snack for kids.
- Marmite: This is almost guaranteed to be the most disliked product in this section. Marmite is a spread that initially gained popularity in NZ before Santitirum bought the rights to it in NZ and Australia. They altered the yeasty spread recipe. With a strong taste of salt, it’s definitely an acquired taste. Definitely try and convince your friends to eat a spoonful at first if you’re feeling mean.
- Cookie Time: Since the 1980s, the Cookie Time cookie has been a constant on dairy counters around the country. Best eaten after 30 seconds in the microwave!
- Griffins Biscuits: Griffins is a kiwi-based brand you’ll start to recognise when you browse through the kiwi supermarkets. Way back in 1890 when local John Griffin started the company, he wanted to make sure there was a variety of biscuits so there was something for everyone. That continues today with a variety of biscuits available at any time. Grab a few (the logo is easy to identify on shelves), and see what happens!
- Get The Traditional Kiwi Dip: This is a mix of two products, which when combined make a dip that Kiwis love, preferably with bluebird chips. The two official ingredients are a Maggi Onion soup packet, and reduced cream. Both products are marked as the official ingredients! And don’t worry about knowing how to make it, you’ll see the recipe on the back of the packets.
Unfortunately, as I was making this list I noticed many of the products have moved their production overseas (usually China). While I wouldn’t let that rule out buy a buzzy bee or Swanddri for example, it’s something to consider if you’re one who likes to buy locally made products.
What gift and or kiwi souvenirs do you plan on getting?