New Zealand has very strong bio-security laws.
New Zealand's economy is based on agriculture and importing even small quantities of food, as well as unprocessed animal or plant materials is tightly controlled. These restrictions are designed to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases and pests. Do not think you can get away with bringing items in by not making a truthful declaration, all hand and checked luggage will be x-rayed on arrival and checked with specially trained sniffer dogs as part of the entry procedures.
Take care with any items of food that you have obtained during your travel, many people have been caught and heavily fined after they did not declare fruit, etc they were given as part of an in-flight meal and kept for later consumption. The best advice is to declare any items you think may cause problems - bio-security control border staff may confiscate and destroy the item, but you will not have to pay a fine or face criminal prosecution and a jail term. Even if you haven't declared an item on your arrival card, you can still advise staff of any items of contraband when you get to the customs and quarantine check without incurring a fine. If you have difficulty with the arrival card, most airline staff are able to assist you before arrival.
There are air-side amnesty bins available to cater for accidental importation. Items that must be declared include: any kind of food; any plant material; any animals, animal material or biological specimens; dirty or soiled sports gear, footwear, and used camping gear and anything that may have been in contact with soil, been used on a farm or has been used with animals. If declared, the owners of dirty items are often required to clean them thoroughly. Expect random inspections by sniffer-dogs - you may need to have your luggage inspected if you have had food in it recently that the dogs can smell.
Commercially-packaged or processed food is usually allowed through, but you can still be fined if you do not declare them. If you are unsure, it is always best to declare any questionable items as the immigration officers will be able to tell you what needs to be cleaned or disposed of before entry. Some items, such as wooden souvenirs, may be taken for sterilization or fumigation before being released to you after payment of a fee.
On the spot fines of $200 are issued for not declaring controlled items. The law provides for deliberate breaches to receive a fine of up to $100,000 or a prison term of up to five years.
Importation or possession of most recreational drugs, including cannabis, is illegal and results in arrest. If found guilty, you will be heavily fined and/or imprisoned, after which you will be deported and prohibited from coming back to NZ.
Passports, Visas And Documentation
Minimum validity of travel documents
New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and Australian citizens and permanent residents need only present a passport which is valid on the dates they arrive in and depart from New Zealand.
If you are another national entering NZ as a visitor, student or temporary worker, you must present a passport valid either for at least 3 months beyond the date you intend to depart NZ, or for 1 month beyond the date you intend to depart NZ if the issuing government has consular representation in NZ that is able to issue and renew travel documents - you should check with your passport issuing authority before travelling.
More information about the minimum validity of travel documents is available at Immigration New Zealand.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter New Zealand visa-free as a visitor as long as they present a valid passport:
Indefinitely: Australia both Australian citizens and permanent residents
For up to 6 months: United Kingdom British citizens and other British passport holders who produce evidence of the right to reside permanently in the UK
For up to 3 months: All European Union member states, Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong SAR including British National (Overseas passports), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Norway, Oman, Qatar, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vatican City
With the exception of Australian citizens and permanent residents, entry as a visitor does not permit employment in New Zealand.
For more information, check the list of Visa Free Countries. All these visa waivers, including the one for Australians, can be refused. In particular, potential visitors with criminal records or who have been refused entry to or deported from any country should check with Immigration New Zealand if they need to apply for a visa.
Visitors from countries not in the visa-free list or those wishing to stay longer than the maximum visa-free period for their nationality will need to apply for an appropriate visa. Check the Immigration New Zealand web page for details.
If you require a visa to enter New Zealand, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no New Zealand diplomatic post. For example, the British embassies in Belgrade and Tripoli accept New Zealand visa applications. British diplomatic posts charge £50 to process a New Zealand visa application and an extra £70 if Immigration New Zealand requires the visa application to be referred to them. Immigration New Zealand can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.
If entering NZ as a visitor you must be able to show a ticket to an onward destination or evidence of onward travel arrangements such as a private jet or yacht or you will be refused entry if you do not immediately agree to buy such a ticket at that airport.
For those who need a visa and are travelling in a group having the same travel plans and itinerary, it may be better to apply for the considerably cheaper Group visa. When applying for such a visa, apart from individual application forms, a separate group visa application form only one form for the entire group should also be submitted.
New Zealand is a long way from anywhere else in the world, so for most visitors, the only practical way to enter New Zealand is by air. Even the shortest flights between Australia and New Zealand take over 3 hours.
In order of traffic, international gateways are at Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.Auckland services more than 20 destinations and a dozen airlines, and there are direct connections from Christchurch to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo. The others are largely restricted to flights from Australia. If you do take a flight via Australia, make sure that you have a transit visa, if you need one, or you'll be turned back.
Due to its large Polynesian and Melanesian expatriate communities, New Zealand has extensive direct flight options to and from South Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Departure tax is included in the ticket price if flying out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. If you are departing internationally from other centres, you must pay $25 at the Bank of New Zealand counter or kiosks. Children under 12 are exempt, but still have to obtain an exemption sticker from the bank. If you don't have the sticker, you can check in, but you will not be allowed to progress through security. The departure fee can be paid by credit card, cash or a mixture. Use the opportunity to get rid of the last of your notes and coin, and pay the difference by credit.