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Arriving in New Zealand

The Basecamp for Exploration

Christchurch is an attractive city where you can study, work and experience a lifestyle that is both stimulating and relaxing. It is the largest city in the South Island with a population of 388,500 and is located on the eastern coast between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of the Southern Alps.

There is a wide range of attractions and recreational activities. You can be strolling along a beach, be swimming, surfing, or sailing and only one hour later be in the mountains skiing, snowboarding, cycling or hiking. Nature is our playground and it’s right on the city’s doorstep.  

International Arrival in New Zealand

All passengers arriving in New Zealand will complete a Passenger Arrival Card which will be given to you on the plane or can be collected in the Passport Control (immigration) area after you leave the plane. Read the questions very carefully and answer them all. Translations of the card in other languages can be found on the New Zealand Customs Service website.

Once you depart the plane you will first pass through Passport Control, then onto the baggage claim area where you can collect your bags before clearing customs. At Passport Control you will be asked for your Passport, Visa and Passenger Arrival Card. Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date.

After collecting your bags, walk towards Customs where an officer will ask for your Passenger Arrival Card. Your Arrival Card must declare whether you are carrying any restricted items.

Christchurch's International Airport has a very smooth arrival's process and if you have correctly completed and produced all required documentation, you can expect to walk into the arrivals lounge within half an hour of departing the plane to begin your new life in Christchurch! 

Make sure you know where to meet your transport or homestay provider when you arrive. Usually you will meet just outside the arrival gate inside the airport. 

Restricted/Prohibited Items

There are some things that you are not allowed to bring into New Zealand, such as some foods (e.g. fresh fruit), animal products or plant material. This helps keep New Zealand safe from pests and diseases.

Restricted items include:

  • any type of food you can cook, eat or swallow
  • plants, parts of plants
  • items made of wood
  • plant-based medicines
  • animals (alive or dead) or products of animals
  • equipment used with animals
  • used camping gear, hiking shoes and golf clubs
  • more than 3 litres of spirits, 4.5 litres of wine/beer; or 200 cigarettes

Watch this video which clearly explains what you can or cannot bring into New Zealand.

Ministry for Primary Industries

Biosecurity New Zealand In-flight video

Declare or Dispose

If you have restricted items, it’s a good idea to throw them in the large ‘dispose’ bins before you reach Customs. Otherwise, declare them on your Arrival Card.

You must also declare:

  • goods carried on behalf of another person
  • NZ$10,000 or more in cash, or foreign equivalent

If you declare restricted items, the goods may simply be taken from you. If you do not declare them, you will face a fine of between NZ $400 and $100,000.

Changing Money

You might like to change some money at the airport so that you have enough NZ currency for the first few days. We suggest between $200 and $300. Look for the Travelex sign or use an ATM machine. Read more on Travelex.