04 October 2012

Souvenirs from New Zealand

Retro Funk
Retro Funk Vintage shop in Oamaru

New Zealand and Australia are loaded with souvenir shops. There are good ones and there are bad ones, and my least favorite ones are the ones packed with cheesy, cheaply made imported junk. If I could only bring back one thing from New Zealand, why would it be made somewhere else? Because someone stamped New Zealand on it? Because it's in the shape of a kiwifruit?

My idea of a good souvenir is something made in the country, preferably by an artisan or a local factory. In New Zealand, all sorts of things used to be made domestically, before it was easier and cheaper to import. During many of my thrift store wanderings, I have come across many vintage garments, homewares and toys made in New Zealand. Here are a few of the great things Sam and I have collected in New Zealand.

Souvenir blankets

Vintage wool blankets
When I first set eyes on these types of blankets, I knew I wanted at least one in my future home. Now I have two. I love their bold retro coloring and warm wooly texture. We picked up a couple others, but these plaid ones are my favorite. They make great souvenirs because they can't break in your suitcase, and you can use them to pad more delicate items.

Crown Lynn Pottery Crown Lynn Pottery

Vintage ceramic plates
I've always loved the various patterns on Crown Lynn Pottery, but these plates in particular called to me. They remind me of Orla Kiely stuff, but they're from the 60s or 70s. I got five flower plates and two scribble plates, and they all made the trip home in my carry-on luggage.

NZ Tools

Tools, made and found in New Zealand
Ever the carpenter and lover of well-crafted functional objects, Sam found himself returning weekly to the "tool booth" at the Nelson Farmer's Market to admire a particular planer. He would lovingly pick it up to feel its weight in his hand, think about buying it, and decide to wait to see if the price would go down. It never did, but Sam got it in the end. Because he uses it for work, it will pay for itself eventually. The planer wasn't made in New Zealand, but every time he sees it he will remember our weekends at the Nelson Market.

Another good souvenir for the handyman in your life would be a set of Evacut drill bits, made in the factory in Kaiapoi (about 10 minutes from where I was sitting when I started writing this post), and of higher quality than many sold in the US.

Sam also picked up another planer, two old screwdrivers made in New Zealand, and some new paintbrushes of exceptional quality. Ultimate Oval brand paintbrushes by Hadyn have been a very handy tool for both of us.

NZ Honey

Famous New Zealand honey
Bees constantly stop to check me out whenever I'm painting the exterior of a house. I have vivid memories of driving by pastures with clusters of stacked, pastel painted wooden aviaries, and I brought this memory home with me in the form of honey. It won't last forever, but we brought home a few jars of New Zealand honey. This is an especially good gift for the person who doesn't need any more stuff.

Ohoka Farmers Market

Tui sculpture

Handicrafts and more from the local markets

There are so many wonderful things to be found at local markets aside from good food and atmosphere. We brought home a greenstone pendant for Sam's mother and a handmade metal tui sculpture for my mother. My dad got wool socks made in New Zealand, which he'll find handy when he goes hunting, and Sam's dad got a bottle of New Zealand whisky.

Next time you travel, think outside the box and bring home something that truly embodies the spirit of the place you visited. Buy local, even when you're on the other side of the world.

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