Top 10 Things You Can’t Bring into New Zealand

New ZealandWhen packing for a New Zealand campervan hire holiday, 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. They may seem annoying, but please be considerate – they exist for a reason.

Aside from the obvious, like illegal drugs and weapons, you may be surprised at what you’re not allowed to bring into New Zealand. Here’s a list of the top ten and  – you know what? – it was surprisingly difficult to compile. Please be aware that I’m not an expert; I merely have experience entering New Zealand and, well, googling.


1) Food

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. (FYI, you can actually buy Creme Eggs in New Zealand. This was the first time my nana visited us after we moved here, back when she still thought New Zealand was an uncivilised wasteland devoid of modern luxuries such as Christmas wrapping paper. But I digress.)

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.

orange-158258_6403) Tea and/or coffee

Yeah, I saw this on a list somewhere, but I know lots of people who were fine bringing packets of tea and coffee in. (See what I mean about this list being difficult to compile?!)

4) Plants

Don’t bring flowers on the plane. Just buy them when you arrive.

5) Anything that used to be a plant

Untreated 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: Just 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.

6) Animals

Make sure you don’t have any stowaway rats or fleas 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’.

boot-311274_6408) Seeds

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!”


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 If you want to call them from overseas, the number is +64 9 927 8036.

You’d be surprised how many people don’t read this before commenting. I’ve given up.


Article by Abigail Simpson, author of POMS AWAY! A British Immigrant’s View of New Zealand

76 thoughts on “Top 10 Things You Can’t Bring into New Zealand

  1. Can I take java cakes bought at tesco supermarket sealed and in original package as well as slab of wholenut chocolates

    1. I’d think so. Just declare it. Declare everything you have any doubt about. It only takes a few seconds to explain to the customs people what it is, and if it’s okay they send you through. Better than having them find it if you haven’t declared it.

    1. You can try. Sealed in original packaging should be okay. Just make sure you declare. They might make you get rid of the seeds, but I don’t know.

  2. I am wondering if I can take cake without icing. I am going to make my dads birthday cake. It would be good if i can bake the cake here and icing it in new zealand.

    1. I don’t know if that would be allowed. Probably not, but I don’t know. You could bake it anyway, declare it and risk having it chucked away at customs. It’s only a cake.

  3. No 3 Tea and Coffee, does that mean as long as the tea bags are sealed in their original packaging that you can bring them in.

    1. As far as I can tell. I know people that have brought packets of tea and coffee in their original packaging, anyway. Either way – DECLARE IT!

  4. we do have food shops in NZ. Marmite is made here and we have all the other stuff mentioned too, Why go through the hassle of carting it around.

  5. Well they just confiscated our Vegemite even though we took I through Australian security. We stayed inside the International Terminal area in Auckland on our way home to San Francisco but they could care less. Ridiculous. Now I know why they refused to sell me alcohol in the duty free area in Melbourne, they said they’d confiscate it in Auckland…

  6. Hi, my nephew has requested a packet of Weetos (breakfast cereal) as he can’t get them in NZ any ideas if they will be confiscated or not?

  7. nice article 🙂 is that possible to bring milk powder and food pouches for baby, also I would like to bring buscuits for him, thanks a lot

    1. nope you can’t bring bakkwa. I brought some in vacuum packed from Changi Airport – the shop said its allowed to be brought into Australia as its vacuumed packed so they didn’t see a reason why it couldn’t come into NZ. Got to the customs at the airport and they threw it all out.

  8. I’m returning to NZ from USA and my Mum has given me some decorative painted (shell only); Ukrainian/Polish Easter eggs. Egg long gone, only shells. Beautifully painted , would like to have these family gifts. Will I be able to bring in to NZ?

  9. Good Day,
    I wish to take a chess set for my son. The whole chess set is made from German wood , which was purchased in the UK at a Market.

  10. Hi there I was wondering how much Manuka Honey am I allowed to bring into Malaysia, and I would like to bring vegetable and flower seeds there too are they allowed?


  11. Can I bring live sperm in via my testicles?
    I know it’s seed but I promise not to spill it on NZ soil
    (PS: Those maths Captchas are hard!)

  12. I am returning home. Can I bring in red rice and palm sugar? I noticed previous questions concerning rice were not answered.


  14. How much wine may one take into Newzealand

    How much wine may one take into newzealand

    how much wine may one take into newzealan

  15. I used to think you can’t bring fur coats into New Zealand because of articles like this misinforming me, but I was RELIEVED when I found out from the New Zealams customs that as long as it is a finished fur piece, it should be ok. And I had a Fendi mink fur that I bought online for myself that was imported, not just that crappy Possum and rabbit “fur” that sure as hell isn’t proper fur. It just means you can’t buy fur products from companies like Saks and Neiman’s online and have it imported into New Zealand which is unfortunate, but thankfully they only really do fur trimmed shoes and bags on there anyway and the coats they sell online are only by the likes of people like Yves Salomon and Gorski, but not proper high end brands like Fendi, J Mendel, Dior or Dennis Basso, so it is not a major loss. Just buy it mainly from sites like 1stdibs, Yoogi’s Closet or occasionally Ebay if you are sure the fur piece is actually by the designer and is authentic (for your state of mind and not the customs people, obviously!)

    Taxidermy is a major no-no, though

  16. strange I was coming back from Tunisia and my husband had put half dry olives in tin foil stuffed in the side of my suitcase side zip all seeded and I brought leather bags,sandels,a coat with a fur collar, turkish coffee and green tea I was taken and grilled for 4 hours about why and who was I going to Tunisia for was my second time not a word about any of the items and ten pkts of smoke’s only who was paying for my travel and how could I afford it on a low income now everytime I come back I get treated like a criminal not one word about any of the stuff I brought back I got stripped and made to do degrading things with 3 woman custom officer’s last time I don’t understand and they won’t tell me why I’m treated like that so I dread coming home now and I have document’s with everything about my husband all his ID photo copy they took all messeges and photo’s from my phone I complained to no avail is anyone else treated like this

  17. Oh, wow, thanks! Now I shan’t bring my organic night cream and face/eye cream, as both contain raw honey, and both are not cheap. Hey, you saved me $70 sans tax! Thanks. Now I wonder about the mixed seed seasoning, Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend With Sea Salt, Garlic, & Onion, as it contains sesame seeds and poppy seeds, both not on the NZ approved list of herbs and spices. Maybe if I ground it up into a paste, dehydrated it, and ground dry again?

    1. Can’t help you there, beyond this list. Just declare everything you’re not sure about. My fiance went to Australia for a few days last year. At the airport in Australia, he bought a packet of crocodile jerky (because why not?) to bring back to New Zealand. Even though the packet was unopened, the New Zealand airport staff took it off him.

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