When packing to come to New Zealand, it is important to consider the following. New Zealand is a unique yet delicate country – a small island – and the introduction of a foreign biohazard, such as a disease or a pest, has the potential to cripple the economy and throw the ecosystem into chaos. This is why New Zealand has especially stringent customs laws, which could affect you when you enter the country. Aside from the obvious, like illegal drugs and weapons, you may be surprised at what you’re not allowed to bring in. Here is a list of the top 10 things you can’t bring into New Zealand:
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Some packaged food is allowed if you declare it, but if you brought fruit to eat on the plane journey, for example, you’ll have to get rid of it upon arrival – the same with meat and cheese. My nana was hassled when she tried to enter New Zealand with a packet of Cadbury Creme Eggs,* but most chocolate is fine as long as you declare it. At the time, we joked that the X-ray machine must have thought the Creme Eggs were grenades, but, thinking about it, it probably thought they were real eggs – eggs are a big no-no.
2) Honey and/or products containing honey
Honey is also a big no-no, so check the ingredients of any natural beauty products you want to bring with you – if they contain honey, they’ll be confiscated.
3) Tea and/or coffee
This includes teabags that aren’t sealed in their original packaging.
Who’d bring flowers on a plane? You can buy them when you get there.
5) Anything that used to be a plant
Wooden items and woven straw bags or hats, for example, have to be disinfected, to your cost and inconvenience – and if you didn’t declare them, then you’re in trouble.
Tip: Declare everything. Not sure about something? If in doubt, declare it. It’s far better to declare something unnecessarily than to not declare something and have it discovered… You get a rather nasty fine.
Make sure you don’t have any stowaway rats in your luggage!
7) Anything that used to be an animal
This includes items such as fur coats, feathers, bone souvenirs, things made with tortoiseshell and, a definite no-no, traditional Chinese ‘medicines’.
Planting foreign seeds in New Zealand could be quite literally sowing the seeds of doom!
9) Equipment used on animals
You know, like a horse brush with horsehair still on it.
10) Dirty shoes or camping gear
Basically, any items you want to bring that have been in contact with nature, you need to clean first to make sure there aren’t any traces of soil, pollen, seeds, or anything like that.
Jokingly, you can imagine entering New Zealand and having your bag checked, and the guy saying, “Oh, yeah, grenades, okay, she’ll be ’right, mate. An apple? Get down!”
* This was the first time my nana visited us in New Zealand, back when she still believed that New Zealand was an uncivilised wasteland devoid of modern luxuries such as Christmas wrapping paper. Upon finally making it through Arrivals at Auckland International Airport, the first thing she saw in one of the airport’s newsagents was Cadbury Creme Eggs.
DISCLAIMER: To all the people asking me things in the comments… I’m no expert. I just did a lot of (rather frustrating) googling for this article. I don’t know any more than what I’ve already written down. If you’re not sure about something, either don’t bring it, or do bring it and DECLARE it. If you’ve got something specific you want to bring in that you’re not sure about, you could try contacting New Zealand Customs directly. Their website is www.customs.govt.nz. If you want to call them from overseas, the number is +64 9 927 8036.
Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand