Stuffed crocodiles, holy water, llama foetus, stowaway cockatoo: Unusual things found at NZ borders in 2018

Last summer, officials intercepted 3111 fresh produce items at New Zealand's borders - and they're expecting more this summer due to predicated increases in international visitors.

Here's a round-up of some of the other items travellers turned up with at airports and on a cruise ship.

1. Stuffed crocodile ornaments

A baggage search of a group of plane passengers returning from Vietnam revealed more than 40 stuffed crocodile ornaments.

The ornaments were found to be contaminated with live beetle larvae and were treated.

Officials handed them over to the Department of Conservation to check whether they complied with the rules around endangered species.

However, the travellers did not have the required import permits and DOC ordered for the items to be destroyed.

2. Holy water

Air passengers returning from India declared a bag of holy water to officers at Auckland Airport.

The water had a green tinge, and on closer inspection, officers discovered a live shrimp.

3. Dried llama foetus

Officials seized a dried llama foetus from a German backpacker, who declared it at Auckland Airport.

The traveller told officials it was purchased in South America, thinking it was plastic. llama foetuses are associated with good luck in some parts of South America.

4. Tick attached to passenger

A passenger arriving from the UK at Christchurch Airport declared a tick attached to her arm.

Paramedics removed the tick, which was later identified as the castor bean tick.

The species is associated with bacterial and viral pathogens, including Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis.

5. Cockatoo

In February, Biosecurity NZ dealt with "the event of the summer" when they had to wrangle a cockatoo that decided to come across the Tasman on a cruise ship.

The bird enjoyed a luxury cruise around New Zealand after biosecurity officials allowed it to stay on the vessel for eventual return, however subject to strict conditions.

"We needed photographic evidence of its containment and the name of an officer responsible for looking after the bird. There was also a requirement for MPI officers to check on the bird and its containment facilities at every new port visit in New Zealand," Andrew Spelman, MPI's border clearance services manager said.

Officials then took measures to rehabilitate it with its owner in Brisbane.

6. Bat's head

In June, MPI faced a "nightmare" situation when a bat's head was declared at Auckland Airport by a passenger arriving from Apia.

The traveller told officials his family had eaten the rest of the bat in Samoa and he wanted to show the head to relatives in New Zealand.

The head was partly mummified with "loose flaps of skin", Biosecurity New Zealand passenger manager Craig Hughes said.

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

Biosecurity confiscated and destroyed the head.

7. Fruit fly larvae

Another potential pest problem was posed in July when fruit fly larvae was intercepted at Auckland Airport.

The larvae could have devastated the country's horticulture industry, Biosecurity New Zealand said.

It was discovered in chillies the luggage of a tour party leader from Malaysia last month, after an x-ray screening. A caterpillar was also found in some garlic bulbs.

The intercepted larvae were believed to be of Malaysian fruit fly, which has invaded a number of Pacific islands. The species attacks more than 60 types of fruit and vegetables.

Harri - the stowaway Australian galah
Harri - the stowaway Australian galah. Source: MPI