Charmaine Beaumont likens herself to Goldilocks.
She jokes that Goldilocks started with three bears when she was a young girl.
“Then she turned into an old woman and now has 300.”
More than 320 bears and soft dolls line two bedrooms in Charmaine’s city centre home.
Barnaby, sitting at just over 120cm tall, is the largest bear in the collection and he resides in the dining room watching over the daily meals.
The hobby started 35 years ago when Charmaine saw a Huggies advert on TV with a bear jumping on piles of linen.
“I just thought ‘oh, he’s gorgeous’, so I started reading about bears, joined the ‘Not Just Bears Club’ and bought my first bear; Sir Edmund Hilary Bear at the Auckland Museum for $1000,” she says.
“It’s just a lot of fun and the bears are friends, if you get a bit down you just go up and do things with them, it just takes you to another world.”
She says she has been a serious collector for 25 years but, with plans to downsize their home, Charmaine will soon begin the impossible task of trying to halve her collection.
She says some will be sold with others being donated to charities such as Nelson Tasman Hospice.
It took four people 10 hours to carefully pack the collection for her last move from the North Island, so she’s hoping she will find a house close by.
Charmaine says a few bears in her collection are one-of-a-kind, while all others are collector bears or limited edition.
They are all hand-crafted from mohair or alpaca wool with the most valuable bear being worth around $3000, but the combined collection is valued at well over $100,000.