Biosecurity officials say they have made one of their most unusual seizures at New Zealand's border – a bat's head.

A traveller from Fiji declared the grisly item at Auckland Airport when he arrived from Apia last week.

"You see some strange things carried by passengers in this job and this one is definitely up there," said Biosecurity NZ passenger manager Craig Hughes.

Hughes said the traveller's family had eaten the rest of the bat in Samoa and he wanted to show the head to relatives in New Zealand.


It was in a poor condition, partly mummified with loose flaps of skin.

"It was a biosecurity nightmare," Hughes said.

"Bats have a terrible reputation as disease carriers and the remains could have harboured hitchhiker pests."

The bat's head was seized and destroyed. Officials applauded the traveller for declaring it.

"It's what we want from all arriving international travellers," Hughes said.

"It's about everyone doing their bit to protect New Zealand, not to mention avoiding a stiff fine or other enforcement action."