I've bought some pretty quirky stuff while travelling. Lately there have been a lot of carved wooden weapons; I blame the 10-year-old for those. There have also been a fair few musical instruments: stringed, percussion and even a wooden tank that doubles as a music box. As for the erroneous snow globes from tropical climes, there's something so hard to resist about snow falling on palm trees. But the best souvenir I think I've ever bought is the stoat trap I picked up after a trip to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.
In the Bay we met up with Lynda Walter from the Whakatane Kiwi Trust and she told us all about the amazing work being done by the trust's wonderful team, most of whom are volunteers.
Having started out with four naturally occurring kiwi pairs in 2000, the area around Ohope Beach has become something of a wildlife sanctuary, even though there is no fence to keep the predators out.
Today it is estimated there are more than 125 kiwi pairs in residence within the project area, and one of the keys to that growing population is pest control.
When Lynda told us that for just $135 a year we could be the proud owners of our own trap, I couldn't resist and when I returned home I put my credit card to good use. Since the Whakatane Kiwi Trust paired up with the Whakatane West Rotary Club, that $135 donation supports both organisations to service, maintain and expand the predator trap network within the Whakatane Kiwi Project area, and now my son and I are part of the team.
And the neatest thing is we can visit the Whakatane Kiwi Trust website to keep tabs on how many kills our trap has achieved and where we stand on the leader board. Not wanting to brag, but in just three months we've taken seven lives which puts us way out in front of the other sponsors. Our trap has taken out four stoats, one weasel and a hedgehog.
And I do apologise to the more sensitive souls reading this; I know it sounds bloodthirsty but the trap is humane and the benefits to our native bird population more than make up for any sorrow you might feel for the mammalian carnage.
While staying in Ohope over Christmas, my son and I thought we'd check up on the lives we'd helped protect by doing the self-guided kiwi walk around the Fairbrother Track in the Ohope Scenic Reserve. Waiting for dark to fall, we tiptoed around the one-hour loop track and, while we didn't see any kiwi, we heard their call as well as the tell-tale rustle of the birds scuttling about in the bush. There were even glow-worms which were reward enough for staying up past our bedtimes.
Without a doubt, that stoat trap is the best souvenir we've ever bought and, what's more, it's tax-deductible. whakatanekiwi.com