At the edge of Fiordland National Park is a tiny little store.
Shaw and husband Lance used to run a charter boat, Breaksea Girl, in Fiordland and further south, and Shaw had a small shop in their office so customers could buy books about what they’d seen. When they sold their tourism business and the boat, she missed dealing with books and book-lovers. “So Lance said, ‘For goodness sake, love, just get something built and open it.’”
The couple had a space next to their house that was perfect, and Shaw designed the shop to have a hobbit-type feel to it. She officially opens from September to Easter, but anyone can ring the bell – saved from Breaksea Girl – and she’ll pop over. The books largely reflect her love of New Zealand’s far south, and the environment she’s fought hard for decades to preserve. But there are two shelves of lighter “holiday reading”, the proceeds of which she gives to the Blind Foundation and Te Ānau’s hospice. “It’s only a hobby, so I don’t need to make money.”
To that end, Shaw also pots up native seedlings from the bush at the back of their property, and puts them out for passersby to help themselves. And she’s just added another tiny hut, with a metre-high door, full of books and toys and games for children whose parents are browsing in the other bookshop. Travellers can even borrow children’s books or toys overnight while they’re in Manapōuri, returning them before they leave – a “sleepover library”, as she calls it.
This may well be New Zealand’s smallest bookshop, but Shaw says the size suits her perfectly. “And when I finish, they can just pick up this little cottage because it came on the back of a trailer.”