72 people found this article useful

Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in New Zealand


What to declare when arriving in New Zealand.

Once you start exploring New Zealand, you’ll see how this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. There’s still vast areas of wilderness and native wildlife living here. Much of the plants and wildlife would be worse off or completely wiped out if there wasn’t a strict biosecurity system in place to stop people bringing in foreign pests and diseases.

Biosecurity in New Zealand is governed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). This quick guide will go through the procedures enforced by MPI that you will encounter when arriving in New Zealand.

What to expect from biosecurity when you land in New Zealand.

The arrival procedures may be stricter than what you are used to, but there’s nothing to worry about when landing in New Zealand unless you are a hardened criminal. This guide will tell you what to expect in the following sections:

  • Complete the Passenger Arrival Card
  • Arriving at the airport: declaring items
  • What happens if a risk item is found in your bags
  • What you should declare
  • Declaring used equipment
Nomads Hostels

1 - Passenger Arrival Card English language version-1

Complete the Passenger arrival card

On your flight to New Zealand, the inflight crew will ask you to fill out the Passenger Arrival Card. This is a double sided, narrow card asking for personal details, your intentions in New Zealand, but most importantly, asking you to declare any restricted or prohibited items you are bringing into the country.

Answer the questions honestly. If you make a false declaration, you will be fined NZ$400. Also, if you’re not sure whether to declare something or not, declare it! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Get extra advice on how to fill out the Passenger Arrival Card here.



The restricted and prohibited goods that you must declare on your Passenger Arrival Card and on arrival in the airport are:

  • All food items down to the smallest ingredient.
  • All plants and plant products, including items made from wood.
  • Live animals.
  • Animal products like shells, feathers and hides.
  • Water products like fish, shellfish, diving and fishing equipment.
  • Used equipment (see section below).



Used equipment is included the list of things to declare because equipment might carry soil holding diseases and pests. MPI suggests that you “check, clean, dry” equipment before packing it. Also, pack the equipment somewhere easy to access in case it does need inspecting.

Used equipment refers to:

  • Hiking and sportswear that has been outside urban areas.
  • Gaiters.
  • Tents and other camping equipment.
  • Camping food.
  • Hunting equipment including clothes and backpacks.
  • Equipment used with animals, including farm footwear, vet supplies, horse riding gear and shearing equipment.
  • Gardening equipment.
  • Any gear, including clothes, footwear and tools, used in any farming and forestry industry.
  • Any fishing equipments
  • Diving equipment, including wetsuits.

Declare it all!


Arriving at the airport: declaring items

Although it is not illegal to bring the risk items listed above into New Zealand, you have to declare them. When you go through Passport Control in a New Zealand airport, you will be asked if you have anything to declare. Be honest! If you panic, declare everything!

As you move into the Customs and Biosecurity area of the airport, after picking up your bags at Baggage Claim, you will hand over your Passenger Arrival Card and asked again if you have anything to declare.

As you move through Biosecurity, there may be detector dogs sniffing out risk goods. You’re bags will likely go through an x-ray machine. Inspectors might also look in your bags.


What happens if a risk item is found in your bags

If a risk item is found in your bag, you may have to surrender the item.

To keep the item, the item can be sent off for treatment by other companies. Then you can collect your item at a later date. You may have to pay a fee for this treatment. If the item is not safe, it will be destroyed.

Some items may incur a tax, which you will have to pay.

As mentioned above, if you fail to declare a risk item, you will receive an instant NZ$400 fine.

More about restrictions on entering and importing to New Zealand.

Just to cover all your basis, make sure to read our other guides.

  • Care Packages: Restrictions on Imports and Courier Packages into New Zealand
  • Arriving in Auckland Airport, New Zealand
  • The Passenger Arrival Card
  • Arrival Advice: Passport Control and Immigration
HiFX - Money Transfer
Was this article useful? Useful Useless
North Island Hostels

6 Best Backpacker Hostels in Napier and Hastings

Budget accommodation in Napier and Hastings. With plenty of sun, biking and [...]

Popular Backpacker Jobs

10 Reasons to Volunteer During Your Gap Year

Make a difference and do something worthwhile! When you hear of volunteering on [...]

Natural Attractions

21 Crazy Rock Formations in New Zealand

You thought rocks were boring? Think Again! If you hadn’t noticed, landscapes [...]

Art & Culture

Maori Etiquette: What to do When Visiting a Marae

The Maori welcome ceremony. New Zealand’s Maori culture is yet another drawcard [...]

Popular searches: Budget, Free, Jobs, Travel Tips, Rotorua
New Zealand's Biggest Gap Year on YouTube
Hot on Backpacker Guide
Useful Tips

10 Tips to Make the Most of Your Gap Year in New Zealand

Make your New Zealand gap year the best it can be! You […]

Camping Tips & Information

Accommodation Guide to Holiday Parks in New Zealand

What are the accommodation and facilities like in holiday parks? Some of […]

Natural Attractions

7 Ways to Take on New Zealand’s Glaciers

There’s more to exploring the glaciers than a heli tour! With the […]

We're on youtube!
Join us on YouTube!

This year we spend 365 DAYS tackling 365 ACTIVITIES all across New Zealand and posting new videos every day!

Watch the adventure!