Toys That Are Uniquely Kiwi

Toys That Are Uniquely Kiwi

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Carrie McBride
Jul 21, 2010

New Zealand has a striking and remote natural landscape - from snowy mountains to fjordlands and spectacular alpine rivers. Maybe the clean air and abundance of natural resources has inspired a culture of unique and inspiring design, or maybe it's just that Kiwis really know how to have fun - any nation that can create something as crazy fun as the Zorb obviously takes enjoyment very seriously!

I love that New Zealand design is often influenced by its traditional Maori culture and European heritage; blends contemporary style with classic inspiration; has a strong focus on sustainable materials but most of all, does it with a childlike sense of fun. This translates beautifully into products for kids because not only do they look great and tread lightly with a small eco-footprint but they're rugged enough to last for generations and bring smiles to a whole lot of faces. All of which make them must-haves for kids no matter where in the world they are.

Wishbone Bikes
Wellington couple Rich and Jen created these balance bikes to keep up with the needs of their growing children. One Wishbone bike is equivalent to three separate bikes - starting off as a three wheel model for 1 year olds, it transforms into a balance bike once they're active and mobile and then by flipping the centre panel, becomes the largest balance bike on the market when your child is around 4 years old.

Made from sustainable materials and available in two limited edition looks - Shane Hansen's Maori-inspired design symbolising new life and relationships; and Neal Whittington's design based on the endangered Giant Kauri Snail of New Zealand. I think I'd keep them for myself as a piece of artwork!

Buy in the US
Buy Internationally

Phoyo Playhouse
Architect and Dad, Robin Hannah initially developed the PHOYO (PlayHouse Of Your Own) in the 1970s as a cubbyhouse for his kids. He developed a series of panels that would interlink with one another to form an enclosed space to suit young children. The result became a treasured playspace for the next five years, then for other families for many years after.

PHOYO is a slot-together playhouse made from sustainably grown pine. It's quick and easy to set up and easy to pack up and store away. Small enough to fit in a bedroom or living room but big enough for lots of kid-size fun. You can even download a paper scale model to play with!

Buy Internationally

Seedling Kits
Seedling is all about giving kids the opportunity to explore their world and their abilities. A child's natural instinct is to get involved, give anything a go, think creatively and ask questions. Seedling created these kits to nurture this process and engage young minds, planting ideas that grow a passion for creative thinking.

There are over 30 kits to choose from for kids ranging in age from 3 to 10 years and include everything your child will need to create, decorate and enjoy the act of making something of their very own. Some of the titles include:

• your own Russian Doll
• Build your own Erupting Volcano
• Create your own Character Mask
• Design your own 9 piece Block Puzzle
• Invent your own Board Game
• Design your own Tote Bag

I think adults would get as much enjoyment out of these as kids would!

Buy Internationally

Keko Kiwi
The KekoKIWI toy was made and designed in New Zealand to give young kids the opportunity to own a kiwi toy that is solid in construction and timeless in form. The toy combines a playful interaction of three basic elements; a body, beak and offset eccentric wheels which allow the toy to wobble as it's moved along. The parts are created from locally grown timbers, including beech, macrocarpa, and radiata pine and finished with non-toxic child-safe paint.

Buy internationally

Nuzilla Hanging Mobiles
In a bird or sea creature theme, the Nuzilla hanging mobiles are made in New Zealand from renewable plywood. Swinging in the breeze or swimming in the draught, you can watch them catch the currents and ride the zephyrs. Leave it in its natural wood state or paint to match your own color scheme - they'd make a great mobile for bird or underwater themed nurseries.

Buy internationally


Design-minded Maddie keeps tabs on stylish finds for babies, kids and their mums and shares them on her colorful, upbeat blog, Li'l Magoolie where you'll find fun splashes of graphic design (her other profession) and always a bit of humor. Currently laying her hat in New Zealand she loves giving special shout outs to awesome Kiwi design and we're thrilled to have her share these kid-focused products with us. You can read more about Maddie and Li'l Magoolie in our Big Blog Family feature and, of course, by visiting her at Li'l Magoolie. Thanks Maddie!

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