Shipping Your Household to New Zealand

moving boxes to new zealand

Shipping your household belongings to New Zealand can feel like a daunting task.  There are three main ways to bring your effects to New Zealand, bringing them on the plane, shipping them via ocean freight, and shipping them with a common courier like DHL.

On the Plane

Bringing your belongings with you on the plane is often the cheapest option if you are bringing personal effects and not a lot of household items. You need to check with the airline what your baggage allowance is.  It varies based on the airline, airline alliance, first operating carrier, and overseas operating carrier. Most airlines charge excess baggage per item, but some airlines like Qatar charge per kilogram.  US-based airlines tend to have some of the lowest excess baggage fees of the airlines that fly to New Zealand.  Suite cases are h, and many weigh 10% of the weight limit for each piece of baggage.  One way that you can bring more items is to ship your items inside of double-walled boxes. A downside of bringing everything with you on the plane is that you have to transport it to and from the airport. 

luggage on trolley in airport

Common Courier

Shipping your belongings with a common courier is a less common method, but it is a good option for some people.   It is best suited to people bringing few items and as a way to ship specialty items.  Shipping with a common courier is the most expensive of the three options, and it is essential that you fill out the customs forms correctly to avoid unnecessary duties from being levied on your items. The main advantage of shipping with a common courier is that it is a fast way to get your effects to New Zealand and you do not need to deal with your baggage at the airport or transporting it to your final destination.  If you are bringing large items like a bicycle to New Zealand, common carriers can be a good option, so you do not need to figure out how to get it from the airport to your new home.  Sites like Bike Flights have contracted special rates and frequently charge reasonable rates.

professionally packed bicycle

Sea Freight

Shipping your belongings via sea freight is by far the best method if you are moving to New Zealand permanently and bringing a lot of household items. You can ship port to port, where you bring your items to the port and pick them up from the port.  You can also use a shipping service that picks up your items from your home and delivers them to your new home.  This option is more convenient, but it can also be significantly more expensive. 

Different shipping services allow you to ship by various methods.  You can ship by the percentage of a shipping container or based upon individual item size.  One downside to this method is that it is the slowest shipping method and can take several weeks to several months. It is often hard to find the price of shipping by sea without giving your information and waiting for a response back.  Seven Seas has an online calculator and offers instant quotes without any personal information. It is a good tool to use to get a rough idea of shipping costs.

packed boxes for New Zealand


Duties are not charged on used personal goods. They are due on new items. If you are not bringing the items with you, you need to be in the country before your items arrive.  If your household arrives in New Zealand before you, they will require a custom duties deposit based on the insured value of them.  When you arrive in the country if you are shipping unaccompanied items into the country, you need to declare them.


Do not fret about not bringing everything to New Zealand. Most things are available in New Zealand, and most people that I know that moved to New Zealand did not bring furniture or household items.  Op shops are a great place to pick up relatively inexpensive household items and furniture. Our moving to New Zealand guide goes over all facets of moving to New Zealand.

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