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What Do You Need to Declare When Arriving in New Zealand?

What can you not bring into New Zealand?

New Zealand border control has strict rules on what you can bring into the country. The majority of restricted or prohibited items are those which pose a biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s fragile and unique environment. For this reason, it’s best to be mindful about what you pack in your luggage for New Zealand and know what you need to declare when arriving in New Zealand.

The article below will go over examples of everything you need to declare when arriving in New Zealand. If you are unsure of something you are bringing into New Zealand, it doesn’t harm to declare it anyway. Failure to declare a risk item or falsely declaring an item will incur an instant NZ$400 fine, and either your item being sent for treatment at your expense, treated at the airport at your expense, or destroyed. To avoid this situation, take a look at the risk items mentioned in the article below, as well as the Passenger Arrival Card.

What items you have to declare when arriving in New Zealand

  • Any food
  • Animals or animal products – including food, souvenirs with animal products on, raw wool, etc
  • Plants or plant products – including nuts, seeds, medicinal products, etc
  • Other biosecurity risk items – including animal medicines, biological cultures, organisms, soil or water
  • Equipment used with animals, plants or water
  • Items that have been used for outdoor or farming activities
  • Alcohol and tobacco over the duty-free allowance
  • Prescription medicines
  • More than NZ$10,000 in cash
  • More than NZ$700 worth of goods – not including your clothes, toiletries, etc.
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What Food to Declare when arriving in New Zealand

You must declare all food that you are bringing into New Zealand. This doesn’t mean that you can’t bring food into New Zealand, but you must declare it. However, there are a few food items that you absolutely cannot bring with you into the country.

Food You Can’t Bring Into New Zealand
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • fresh meat or fish
  • honey and bee products
Food that you can bring into New Zealand

For other food items, you can generally bring food into New Zealand that has been commercially prepared and packaged, is shelf-stable (i.e. is safe to eat within 4 months without being stored in a refrigerator), and unopened. Again, all food must be declared.

Baked goods are allowed as long as they don’t contain fresh fruit, raw nuts and fillings such as meat or whole egg.

Confectionery foods like sweets and lollies can be brought into New Zealand as long as they don’t contain:

  • liquid honey or other bee products, such as propolis
  • loose fresh fruit
  • loose raw seeds
  • citrus peel (candied citrus peel is Ok)
  • meat products.

Teas with no restrictions include common teas like Early Grey, English Breakfast, Green, Chamomile, etc. that can be either loose or in a sealed teabag. That also goes for Kombucha tea and herbal teas in a sealed teabag (not hand-tied). However, loose herbal teas and Canton Love-Pea Tea will require treatment at the border but this would ruin the tea. Tea containing honey powder needs to be shelf-stable and be limited to 50 teabags or less per passenger.

Finally, you can only bring honey into New Zealand if it is honey that was produced and packaged in New Zealand and the packaging is tamper-proof sealed. Maple syrup is fine as long as it does not contain honey.

How much food can you bring into New Zealand?

There are weight restrictions on food, which are as follows:

  • Liquid food (such as fruit juice, soup, etc.) – up to 10l.
  • Concentrated liquid food (concentrated juice boxes or condensed soup, for example) – up to 2l.
  • Solid foods – up to 10kg.
  • Moisture reduced foods (such as freeze-dried meals) – up to 2kg.
  • Spices – up to 1kg.


Declaring animals and animal products

You can’t bring any live animals in New Zealand without a permit. Read more about that in Bringing Pets into New Zealand. Souvenirs, ornaments, novelty items and jewellery that have any part made from animal fibres or feathers and/or animals hides and skins must be declared. It is likely that they will need to be inspected and they could require treatment.

There are also a few prohibited animal products that you should avoid bringing into New Zealand.

Animal Products you Can’t bring into New Zealand
  • Asian medicine
  • feathers
  • eggs
  • meat
  • honey and honey products, including cosmetics, health supplements and medicines
  • shells and clams
  • ivory
  • turtle shell items
  • coral
  • snakeskin or whalebone products.


Declaring plants and Plant products

All plant material needs to be declared. Many plants and plant products either need to be treated, need a permit or are strictly prohibited. Examples of the type of plant products you should declare include:

  • dried and fresh flowers
  • seeds
  • plant cuttings
  • items made of bamboo, cane, rattan, coconut or straw
  • items made of wood, such as drums, carvings, masks, weapons, or tools
  • pine cones
  • any souvenirs made from plant material, such as items stuffed with seeds and straw
  • herbal medicines, health supplements and homoeopathic remedies
  • religious offerings.


Declaring used outdoor equipment

You must declare any used items that have bee used in the outdoors, such as fishing, gardening, hiking, camping, etc. This covers a broad spectrum of items, so if you are unsure about any of your outdoor gear, declare it anyway. We also recommend packing these items so they are easy to reach in your luggage in case they need to be inspected.

Used outdoor gear to declare
  • Footwear that has been used outside of urban areas, such as hiking shoes, gaiters and sports shoes. Footwear should be cleaned of soil and seeds before arriving in New Zealand
  • Camping equipment including tents and camping food
  • Hunting gear including backpacks and clothing
  • Any gear used with animals, such as horse riding equipment, farm footwear, vet supplies and shearing equipment and clothes used while shearing
  • Gardening equipment
  • Equipment used horticulture, viticulture, apiculture, aquaculture, and forestry industries, including clothes, footwear and tools.
What water activity gear to declare

You should declare any gear that is used in water activities. This includes, but is not limited to…

  • fishing gear including waders, fishing rods, lines, hooks and flies
  • swimming and diving equipment like wet suits and scuba equipment.
Restrictions on Water Activity Gear

There are strict restrictions on felt-soled waders, which are likely to be seized at the border. Plus, felt-soled waders are prohibited in freshwater in New Zealand.

While fly ties are allowed, non-artificial ties must meet the Import Health Standard, so could be seized for inspection, treatment or be destroyed.

All freshwater equipment and fishing gear must be clean and dried before you bring it into New Zealand. Wet gear will likely be treated or reshipped at your expense or destroyed with your authority.


Other biosecurity risk items to declare

Other items you have to declare include items you might be importing like machinery, a vehicle or machinery parts. Containers and cargo must also comply with the Import Health Standard.

Declaring water products

You must also declare anything associated with water like salt or freshwater products. This could include:

  • seashells
  • any fish and shellfish
  • seaweed, algae, aquarium plants, and seeds
  • micro-organisms
  • diving, swimming, and fishing equipment.
Declaring endangered species products

New Zealand is part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement. Items from endangered species will not be allowed in New Zealand, including items such as:

  • ivory
  • turtle shell artefacts
  • clamshells
  • coral
  • snakeskin products
  • whalebone products
  • Chinese medicines.


What else do you need to declare at customs?

While all of the above covers the items that need to be declared for biosecurity. There are other items that need to be declared to customs so that you can go through the necessary procedures.

Duty-free allowances

You can bring alcohol and tobacco into New Zealand if you are 17 years old and above.  If you bring alcohol or tobacco into the country which is above the duty-free allowance then you will need to pay duty for the remainder. Duty-free items must be for personal use, not for commercial use.

  • Alcohol duty-free allowance — 4.5l of wine or beer, and 3 bottles of spirits or liqueur, each bottle can hold up to 1.125l
  • Tobacco duty-free allowance — 50 cigarettes, 50g of tobacco products, 50g of cigars, or a mixture of all three, as long as it’s not more than 50g.
Prescription Medicines

You will need to declare any prescribed medication or “controlled drugs”. You will be able to bring prescribed medication into New Zealand as long as you have copy of the medicine’s prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you or someone that you’re travelling with is being treated with the medicine, and if the medication is in its original pharmacy container with your name and strength and dosage details shown on the label. You can bring no more than a supply for three months except oral contraceptive pills can be up to six months’ supply. See here for information on how to get prescribed medication in New Zealand.


If you have more than NZ$10,000 or the foreign equivalent in cash, you will need to declare it. It is likely that you will need to fill out a Cash Border Control form.


You must declare goods that are worth more than NZ$700, not including your clothes, jewellery and toiletries, as you may have to pay duty fees or Goods and Services Tax (GST).

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