advertisement

You won't be short of opportunities to find take-home souvenirs of your trip to New Zealand. Gift and souvenir shops abound in every city, and most major attractions, museums, and art galleries also have their own stores. Their shelves bulge with all the iconic New Zealand gifts -- woolen products of every sort, from clothing to floor rugs; kiwis, sheep, and penguins in every size and shape; a growing range of excellent skin-care and cosmetic products; New Zealand-brand sports clothing; some packaged food products (chocolates, honey, sweets); and a plethora of Maori souvenirs.

For high quality, genuine Maori products, you should only purchase items from quality art galleries and gift stores, and preferably items bearing the toi iho" trademark, which is used to promote authentic Maori crafts in New Zealand. Many Maori items on display in mainstream souvenir shops have been made en masse in Asia. I would suggest you purchase any Maori items from places like Auckland Museum, Te Papa in Wellington, and from authentic craftsmen in the Rotorua and Gisborne areas, so you can be sure you have the genuine article.

Pounamu, or greenstone, is only found (in its raw state) in the South Island, so that's the best place to buy it -- specifically in Hokitika on the West Coast. Again, much of the greenstone for sale in New Zealand has been imported from Asia, so make sure you purchase from top quality stores and galleries. In places like Hokitika, you can actually watch the craftsmen carving greenstone.

If you're buying New Zealand wine, ask the winery if they will pack and send your precious cargo home for you -- if they don't, they will be able to recommend someone who does. That way you don't have to carry it all around the country with you. A number of wine merchants also offer this service.

Nelson is an excellent place to purchase New Zealand crafts of all kinds, especially fine handblown glass, pottery, woodwork, and jewelry. The Nelson Visitor Centre has a comprehensive guide to all local galleries and artisans, many of whom can be visited in their private studios.

If you'd like to take home some of our fine woolen casual and sports clothing, a few top names to look out for are Kathmandu, Icebreaker, Canterbury Sport, Wild South, and Untouched World. Most are available nationwide in quality stores selling New Zealand goods and/or sports clothing, but you'll find them all within reasonable proximity of each other in central Christchurch.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.