How to Safely Bring Food into New Zealand

If there’s one thing that us Australian hikers and campers love to do, it’s take off on an overseas adventure and explore the many places that the world has to offer.

One overseas location, in particular, that we Australian outdoor enthusiasts tend to visit is New Zealand.

I’ve been a few times now myself and absolutely love it; despite the fact that I’ve only been to the North Island (yes! I’ll get to the South Island eventually!).

As a small community that is part of a wider outdoor community here both in Victoria and Australia, there are always plenty of discussions around various aspects of the other outdoors.

And when it comes to discussing New Zealand adventures, the one question that gets asked all the time besides weather conditions and ideal gear, is what food can be brought into the country.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting a countries economy by buying when I’m over there and I would highly encourage others to do the same.

But, sometimes, your preference might be to bring something over with you that can’t be found in New Zealand or any other overseas location for that matter.

Your biggest, and probably, only hurdle when bringing outside food into New Zealand is Customs and Bio-Security.

And rightly so. Particularly when it comes to hikers and campers.

The key thing to remember is that whatever you bring in needs to be:

  • Commercially packaged and produced
  • Everything needs to be declared on your travel card

Now, you could run the gauntlet here, make your own dehydrated food, vac seal it, create what MIGHT look like a commercial label and pass it off as commercially packaged food.

Chances are the Customs Officers know every trick in the book and it won’t get through. It’s just not worth the risk and it’ll likely be a complete waste of time, money and energy.

For example, some popular outdoor food products here in Australia are Campers Pantry and Strive Foods.

Both times I’ve been into New Zealand for a multi-day adventure, I’ve taken several of their meals with me, declared them and got through Customs with no issues.

After declaring them, the Customs Officers will ask to check your backpack and the food you are carrying. After all, it’s their job to do so.

If you’ve done the right thing, and it is commercially packaged, you’ll be on your way in no time.

In fact, I took with me to New Zealand every dinner meal that Strive has and none of them were confiscated.

Basically, any fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, fish or honey aren’t allowed into the country if brought in from overseas.

As a side note, they’re just as big on the food coming in as they are on the outdoor gear that you’re bringing in.

Particularly when it comes to boots and tents.

If you’re planning a trip any time soon to New Zealand, my advice to you would be to scrub your boots to death and ensure that every skerrick of dirt is removed from your tent.

They will take your tent away from you regardless and go over it just to be sure, but do yourself, and your trip, a favour and make sure you have thoroughly cleaned it prior to arrival.

Again, declare it all on your travel card and you’ll be on your way. For more info, please visit the bio-security website here.

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