Top 10 Things You Can’t Bring into New Zealand

New ZealandWhen 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:


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.

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

This includes teabags that aren’t sealed in their original packaging.

4) Plants

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.

6) Animals

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’.

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!”

* 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 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

43 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?


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