Gifts take many forms but staff at Auckland Airport were puzzled by what a traveller was bringing back for his family from Samoa last week.
Biosecurity New Zealand passenger manager Craig Hughes said the passenger declared a bat's head when arriving from at Auckland Airport from Apia last week.
"You see some strange things carried by passengers in this job [but] this one is definitely up there.
"The traveller said 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", Mr Hughes said.
"It was a biosecurity nightmare. Bats have a terrible reputation as disease carriers and the remains could have harboured hitchhiker pests."
Despite the serious risk Mr Hughes "applauds" the traveller's actions in declaring the bat's head.
"It's about everyone doing their bit to protect New Zealand, not to mention avoiding a stiff fine or other enforcement action."
Biosecurity confiscated and destroyed the head.