Day of Arrival in New Zealand Airport Guide

What to Expect Upon Your Arrival in New Zealand?

I moved to New Zealand from the states, and everything that I read said you would be tired after your travel day when you get to New Zealand, and I discounted those warnings. It turns out that they are right and moving with a lot of luggage can add potential stress to the move day.  This guide tells you what to expect the day you arrive in New Zealand from getting off the plane until you leave the airport.

On the airplane

You will get a customs form on the plane (remember your pen).  Fill this out and mark yes if you have any food, even if it is just a piece of candy.  We did not know how to answer some of the questions, and we left them blank, and that was fine.  New Zealand is stringent on bio-security, and a lot larger percentage of people declare items on their customs forms compared to the US.


Immigration and customs are very similar for the  Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch airports.  Once you leave the plane, you will reach immigration.  If you are older than 12 and have a passport from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, or the Netherlands, you can skip talking to an immigration officer and go right to an eGate at passport control and scan your passport.  If scanning your passport does not work or you are from another country, go to the queue for an immigration officer.


You are now in New Zealand, and unless you went to an immigration officer, you did not get a stamp in your passport.  Now it is time to get your luggage, and there are plentiful free luggage trolleys in the three airports listed above.  Large items like bicycles and skis typically have a separate area they are offloaded.  When we arrived 11 of our 12 bags made it. An airport employee came up to us and told us that one of our bags was not on the plane and that it was coming tomorrow and would be delivered to where we were staying.  She figured it was us since we seemed to have more luggage than anyone else.

luggage on trolley in airport


You now have to go through customs.  At the Auckland Airport, there is a line for if you are declaring anything and at Wellington and Christchurch, there is just one line.  If you have outdoor equipment, hiking boots, or questionable food, you will go to the screening area. Remember where you packed your outdoor equipment (boots, tents, food, and hiking poles) because customs will want you to take them out.  They will be looking for dirt or checking to make sure it is food that is allowed in the country.  This process took about 10 minutes for us. If you have shipped unaccompanied items to New Zealand, claim them on your customs form.  Next, regardless if you declared anything, is for your bags to go through one final X-ray machine and then you have cleared customs and immigration.

Arrival Hall

The next part of the airport is the arrival hall.  The arrivals hall has cafes if you need a little caffeine boost.  There will also be many of the major cell phone providers with stalls (our guide on picking a New Zealand cellphone plan). There are also ATMs located in the arrival hall.

Rental Car

Now it is time to get your rental car.  At all three airports, some rental companies are located onsite, and some offsite  Hertz is located onsite at all three airports, and if you a member of their loyalty program you can skip the line in the terminal and go to their booth in the parking lot.  We rented a Ford Ranger truck from Hertz (they come with cabs) and were able to fit all of your bags with room to spare.  Hertz has locations in just about every airport in the country and charges minimal to no one-way fees.  I recommend renting a car or van that you think will fit everything and renting one from a rental company that is not off-site. You are now ready to leave the airport and experience driving in New Zealand.

Was your arrival in New Zealand seamless?

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