Foods You Can Bring into New Zealand

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Cuisine Cheesefest 2013
Bringing home some of the delicious flavours of far away shores can be a huge temptation but the fear of having it flung into a bin by NZ MPI staff is a very real deterrent.

Here in New Zealand we have strict biosecurity laws and for good reason, they are there to protect our ecosystems and any new pests are certainly not welcome.

So, what food are you able bring into New Zealand and what do you need to look out for?

From my own travel experience and a few phone chats to the lovely people at MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries), here are things that you can usually bring in, but make sure you declare everything even if you think it is fine!

Spices.  For those who travel to India, Sri Lanka and parts of SE Asia you are sure to come across spices that are superior in quality to those readily available at home.  Generally speaking you can bring up to 1kg of spices for personal use. Whole spices are of more interest to Customs than ground and obviously they need to be dried and cannot have any dirt or leaf matter on them.
Look for;
Kampot Pepper in Cambodia
Saffron in Spain
Nutmeg and cinnamon in Sri Lanka and India

Nuts. Nuts that are shelled and packaged are only a brief interest to customs and as long as you are not bringing in more than a few kilos then you should be fine.
Look for;
Almonds in Sth Australia
Cashew Nuts in Sri Lanka
Pistachio nuts in Turkey
Walnuts in California
Hazelnuts in Spain and France

Vanilla Pods.  Dried vanilla falls into the same category as spices and you are able to bring these in.
Look for
Vanilla while travelling in Niue,Tahiti and Tonga

Chocolate and Confectionery.  As long as the food is shelf stable then you are fine.  As with everything else listed here, make sure you declare it.

Tea and Coffee.  If the tea and coffee and packaged and sealed and you are only bringing in enough for domestic use then there shouldn’t be a problem.  Tea lovers s travelling through India and Sri Lanka can certainly bring a few packs home.

Cheese. It may come as some surprise that you are able to bring in up to 2kg of cheese from anywhere in the world for your own personal use.
It doesn’t matter if it pasteurised or not but make sure that it is wrapped in its packaging.

Dried peas and Legumes.  These are usually required to be heat treated so that they are only useful for culinary purposes as opposed to sprouting and growing.
Check the packaging of the specific product before bringing it in.  Chickpeas definitely need heat treatment.  If in doubt you will run the risk of needing to pay Customs to heat treat the product or possibly discard it.

Canned food items. Most canned foods are permissible as long as they don’t weight more than a total of 2kg.

Take Note that fruit, vegetables, plant material, meat and fish are not able to be brought into New Zealand.

For more information look at Items to Declare

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9 thoughts on “Foods You Can Bring into New Zealand

  1. Hello, would you know if I am able to bring in some tinned foie gras from France into New Zealand ? Also, on a slightly, seperate note, would anyone know if I am able to bring in a wooden salt mill and a wooden pepper mill, from France as gifts? The salt and pepper mill will be filled respectively, with rock salt and peppercorns. Thank you.

  2. I wish to heaven I had checked this page out! We had a fantastic 10 days in Cambodia and Vietnam in September, and I so wanted to bring some spices home but kept getting conflicting information…Same occurred on the next trip 5 weeks later [again to Vietnam, Ha Noi and Ha Long Bay this time AND on a trip we won!]…..planning to return next year so will definitely be doing some ‘foodie’ shopping….!

  3. Oh my, I really wish I had done my homework on this instead of just assuming that I could not bring back any those things after my two trips to Europe! Many a time I had wandered the markets or shops there wishing I could buy and bring home all sorts of goodies. Now that I know that I can I will be leaving plenty of room in my bag for things next time!! Thanks Helen!

  4. Hi, just to be specific it is only MPI (formally MAF) who handles foodstuffs coming into NZ. The amnesty bins belong to, and are cleared by them. NZ Customs role is to enforce legislation surrounding things such as drugs, offensive & restricted weapons, objectionable material, clearing high value goods which attract duty and GST, seizing goods which infringe intellectual property right (trademarks), counterfeit products including counterfeit medicines, CITES goods (trade in endangered species), etc. Ange

  5. Thanks for this very useful information, Helen! I knew about the spices (found out when much to my surprise a friend was allowed to bring in saffron from Iran), but I had no idea about cheese. I will be in Europe later this year and now will be returning with my full cheese allowance!

    • It was a complete surprise to me too in terms of any cheese from any country and that amount. I quizzed the man from MPI quite a bit on it with questions relating to pasteurised etc… and apparently any cheese is fine.