Moving To New Zealand: What Should I Bring From The UK?

Deciding what you should take with you in a move to the other side of the world can be a daunting task.

Container Ship

Ultimately, it’s a decision only you can make, but we thought we’d try to help by drawing on the experiences of ENZ members to give you a few tips and suggestions.

If you arrive in NZ on a Residence visa, you can bring in all your personal possessions tax and duty free. To avoid duty/tax:

• you must have owned and used your possessions before you arrive in New Zealand,

• your possessions must be for your own personal use, and

• for the whole of the period of 21 months preceding your arrival, you must have lived outside New Zealand. (A brief holiday or exploratory visits are okay.)

If you decide you want to bring all or a large part of your possessions, you’ll almost certainly need to use a shipping container. If you decide to make a clean break and travel light, you’ll probably still want to send a few cardboard boxes of possessions.

Here are the options for the sizes of container/boxes that are commonly available:

The 40 foot container

Choosing to ship all your goods in a large (typically 40 foot container) means that for all but the most compulsive hoarders, you should be able to bring more or less all of your household possessions with you. The cost of this option varies considerably. In 2012 rough figures will be between £6,000 – £8,000 depending on your choice of removal company, packing options and your exact location and destination.

Think about the condition of your furniture. It may not be worthwhile taking a large container if your furniture needs to be replaced soon anyway.

There are plenty of budget furniture stores in New Zealand as well as good quality ones.

There is also a strong second-hand market in New Zealand.

The 20 foot container

This could be considered the ‘typical’ option if there is such a thing. For a standard family it will mean that some big items will be left behind and decisions made about what to bring. Again the cost of this option varies considerably. In 2012, rough figures will be between £3,000 – £5,000 depending on your choice of removal company, packing options, your exact location and destination.

Shared container

If you are planning to bring a few large items, then sharing a container will reduce costs considerably. It may take longer for your items to arrive using this option.

A few boxes and suitcases

If you are good at being ruthless or enjoy traveling light, you can consider shipping a few choice boxes. You will save a lot of money on shipping.

The cost of shipping four boxes (50cm x 40cm x 60cm) from the UK to NZ in 2012 is around £150 – £200.

Another advantage of travelling light is that you could use air freight and avoid the lengthy wait for your items. Air freight is pricier than shipping – the cost of air freight for four boxes from the UK to NZ is around £600 – £700.

Handy Tips / Space Saving Ideas

  • It’s a good idea to have a really good spring clean and to sell/get rid of items that you don’t need or that are worn and probably need replacing soon anyway.
  • Remember, you may be in New Zealand without your container goods for a couple of months and this can be a hassle when you first arrive. You can be as imaginative as you like in getting around this problem. For example, if you are waiting for your good quality dining table and chairs to arrive in the container, you could buy some cheap plastic garden furniture in New Zealand and make do with this until your container arrives. (That’s what we did.)
  • If you’re bringing crockery/glasses, it makes sense to wrap them in the clothing, towels or linen you are bringing rather than in specially bought packing materials.
  • If you are travelling light, consider putting your DVD’s into a wallet / folder system and keeping the DVD paper inserts but throw away the DVD boxes – you can buy new plastic DVD cases in NZ.
  • All items brought into NZ that have had contact with soil or have been used outdoors need to be very clean. This includes items like garden tools, camping equipment and shoes. NZ’s biosecurity people are there to ensure that no stray plant seeds, spiders, insects, etc get into New Zealand. If thay are not happy with your items’ condition you will be charged for cleaning, so give your goods some attention before they are shipped.
  • Make lots of lists! They are very handy as you will have a lot to remember and a lot of things to do. Make a list of items you don’t need and get them sold, thrown out or given away. Make a list of items you’ll need to bring with you rather than going in the container.
Moving your car
Moving your car – make sure there’s no rust.

Car shipping

Be mindful that any underbody rust will have to be treated before your car will be considered roadworthy in New Zealand. This is a common problem with cars imported from the UK due to the grit used on UK roads.

Electrical items

New Zealand has the same voltage as the UK, however the maximum current is 10 amps, rather than 13 amps in the UK. You will need to check your electrical items; those requiring more than 10 amps are best replaced by new products in New Zealand. For electrical appliances, check the power or current rating – it should be clearly labelled on each appliance. If it says 2400W (2.4kW) or less, or 10A or less then it will be fine, anything over should not be used in New Zealand.

Large electrical items and electrical items that heat up e.g. kettles, toasters, clothes dryers, and heaters tend to use lots of power and are the ones most likely to be over 2.4KW. ALL electrical items, however, will need to be checked carefully.

Large electrical items

Fridges, washing machines, freezers, tumble driers and microwaves will all work in New Zealand and are generally more expensive in NZ than the UK. Importantly, check that the power usage is 2.4 KW or less. If your whiteware is rusty then brush off any loose rust that may potentially harbour soil or life.


The New Zealand television standard is PAL B/G compared to the UK standard PAL I. Check your television to see if it can support the B/G standard. Many modern TV’s can support both the UK and NZ systems. The main difference between the UK and New Zealand systems is in the sound carrier and if your television does not support PAL G/B you will need a set top box such as a Freeview or Sky to get your television to work.


New Zealand uses the same BT connector as the UK, so telephones should work. However be mindful that cordless phones will need to be checked to ensure that they are using the correct frequency and are not disturbing other services.

Small electrical items

Small electrical items like DVD players, CD players, computers, laptops and kitchen equipment will work in New Zealand. Only bring electrical items where the power usage is 2.4 KW or less. For most items, all that is required is to change the plug over to a New Zealand one. New Zealand plugs are available in hardware stores.

NZ Plug on UK Sockets
Fitting a New Zealand plug onto a UK 5-gang socket saves you from replacing several UK plugs with NZ ones.

If you will be using a number of small electrical items together, such as computer, monitor, printer, etc, you could consider bringing a UK multisocket strip and replacing the UK plug on this with a NZ plug. This will save you the trouble and expense of replacing several UK plugs on individual electrical devices with NZ plugs.

If you are shipping a printer, think about removing the printer ink prior to shipping to avoid messy accidents.

Games consoles

All consoles from the UK will work with the New Zealand power supply. Here is the situation regarding the games as far as we are aware:


PS3 games – all games are region free, worldwide, so they will work fine.

PS3 BluRay – Aus/NZ is in the same BluRay region as Europe, so all BluRay movies will work.

Xbox 360 – Uses same region as the UK , so all games bought in NZ will work on your UK console.

Xbox DVD – NZ is region 4 and UK is 2 – most DVDs bought in NZ will not work on your 360.

Wii – uses the same region as the UK, so all games will work fine.

What you can’t bring

Restricted and prohibited items include:
Bee products such as honey
Plants, seeds, cuttings and bulbs
Packaging such as straw, or used fresh food cartons,
Items from endangered species such as coral, ivory, turtle shell and some sea shells.

For a full list see the MAF leaflet (pdf)

Items that need to be declared include:
Health supplements
Decorations made from dried flowers
All outdoor camping sports equipment and hiking boots
Garden equipment and outdoor furniture.

Consider putting all of your items that need to be declared in the same box/boxes. For a full list see the MAF leaflet (pdf)

One thought on “Moving To New Zealand: What Should I Bring From The UK?”

  1. Hi,

    Just a small note,

    “you could consider bringing a UK multisocket strip and replacing the UK plug on this with a NZ plug.”

    I believe it is illegal in NZ to modify the end as such. Instead, you could say to use one universal plug to plug the strip onto the wall, saving yourself from buying several universal plugs.

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