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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to New Zealand

Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 28 Nov 202110 min read

Vehicles and machinery are the commodities most often imported into New Zealand. Over $7 billion of the country’s imports originate in China. Australia ($4.5 billion) and the USA ($3.3 billion) are also major exporters to New Zealand.

If you’re looking to transport goods to the Southwestern Pacific nation, this page is essential reading. Details of seaports and airports, freight service types, and the time and cost of ocean and air shipping to New Zealand are all here.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to New Zealand?

You have two options when shipping to New Zealand—send your goods by air or by sea. Both these modes of transportation have advantages and drawbacks that will be highlighted on this page.

Ocean Freight to New Zealand

Less than Container Load (LCL): For shippers with small consignments, LCL is a popular option. Your goods will share a container with products from other shippers and you’ll only pay for the space you use.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL is for shippers who want exclusive use of a container for their freight. Despite the name, full-container-load shipping doesn’t require you to fill your container. FCL often works out quicker than LCL and it’s sometimes less expensive.

Air Freight to New Zealand

For urgent deliveries, or goods with a short shelf-life, choose air freight. It’s the fastest way to transport goods to New Zealand, but also the most expensive.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to New Zealand?

The cost of shipping your consignment to New Zealand will be calculated by taking the following into account:

  • The nature of your cargo
  • How you want your freight transported—by ocean or air?
  • The size, weight, and volume of your consignment
  • How far your goods need to be shipped to reach your consignee
  • What kind of delivery is required—it could be port to port or door to door

The weight of your goods directly impacts cost. Heavier shipments (those weighing over 100 kg) are expensive to send as air freight, so you’ll probably find ocean shipping to be the most cost-effective option. The shipping rates you’ll get for consignments weighing between 35 kg and 100 kg are unlikely to differ much whether you choose air or ocean shipping. Light loads (those weighing 35 kg and under) aren’t handled by freight forwarders. For shipments that small, you’ll need to engage an international courier company.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to New Zealand?

New Zealand’s rather isolated location in the Southwest Pacific makes transporting commercial goods a long haul. Below, we’ve given estimates of distances to New Zealand from key cargo hubs in various parts of the world:

  • Sydney to Auckland – 2,100 km
  • Tokyo to Wellington – 9,200 km
  • Beijing to Auckland – 10,400 km
  • New York to Auckland – 14,100 km
  • Berlin to Wellington – 18,100 km

Air freight is by far the fastest way to export goods to New Zealand. Shipments from any major international airport typically complete in two to eight days. The duration of ocean shipping is much longer, requiring between 13 and 63 days, depending on where you are shipping from and your choice of LCL or FCL service.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to New Zealand?

To give you an idea of typical ocean shipping times to New Zealand, we’ve included a few examples below:

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Transit Time LCL Transit Time FCL
Australia Brisbane Lyttleton 26 Days
Australia Brisbane Wellington 14 Days
Australia Fremantle Auckland 17 Days 26 Days
Australia Fremantle Lyttleton 20 Days 37 Days
Australia Melbourne Auckland 13 Days 34 Days
Australia Melbourne Christchurch 22 Days
Australia Sydney Auckland 13 Days 37 Days
Canada Montreal Auckland 49 Days
Canada Vancouver Wellington 47 Days
China Nansha Auckland 31 Days
China Shanghai Auckland 46 Days
China Shekou Auckland 40 Days
China Shenzhen Auckland 23 Days
Germany Hamburg Auckland 55 Days
India Cochin Auckland 36 Days
India Chennai Auckland 38 Days
India Chennai Tauranga 29 Days
India Nhava Sheva Auckland 38 Days 39 Days
India Pipavav Auckland 31 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Auckland 35 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Lyttleton 24 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Wellington 31 Days
Japan Osaka Auckland 63 Days
Japan Osaka Tauranga 60 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Auckland 24 Days
Thailand Bangkok Lyttleton 41 Days
UAE Jebel Ali Auckland 39 Days 38 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Wellington 51 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Auckland 53 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Tauranga 51 Days
USA Charleston Auckland 55 Days
USA Los Angeles Auckland 26 Days
USA Long Beach Auckland 36 Days
USA Miami Auckland 35 Days
USA New York  Auckland 45 Days
USA Seattle Auckland 27 Days

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to New Zealand?

Here are some examples of typical air shipping times to New Zealand from various airports around the world:

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Transit Time
Canada Vancouver Auckland 8 Days
China Zhongshan Lyttleton 2 Days
China Shanghai  Auckland 6 Days
China Shenzhen Christchurch 5 Days
China Xiamen Christchurch 7 Days
Finland Helsinki Wellington 8 Days
Germany Frankfurt Auckland 3 Days
India Bangalore Auckland 8 Days
India Mumbai Auckland 6 Days
India Kolkata Christchurch 5 Days
India Delhi Auckland 8 Days
India Hyderabad Auckland 6 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Auckland 7 Days
Indonesia Denpasar-Bali Auckland 4 Days
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Auckland 8 Days
Singapore Singapore Auckland 3 Days
Switzerland Basel Auckland 8 Days
UAE Dubai Auckland 4 Days
United Kingdom London Heathrow Auckland 2 Days

Import Customs Clearance in New Zealand

Containers in the customs clearance zone as Shipa Freight helps with customs clearance

Specific customs rules and regulations apply to all exports to New Zealand. The intricacies of customs clearance mean it’s a process most businesses prefer to leave to freight forwarders. Their expertise will avoid unnecessary delays affecting your shipment, and will ensure compliance with customs rules in New Zealand.

Below, we’ve listed the documents that officials in New Zealand and your port of origin will almost certainly insist upon:

  1. A Commercial Invoice

  2. A Packing List

  3. A Certificate of Origin

  4. A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)

  5. A Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

You will need to fill in and submit these documents with your consignment. We’ve included examples of each on this documents list page, in case you would like to take a closer look at them. You may also need to supply additional documents, such as a license, certificate, or permit.

Ship Ocean Freight to New Zealand: FCL or LCL?

As a collection of islands in the Southwestern Pacific, New Zealand has plenty of major seaports ready to receive goods.

Your consignment is likely to be shipped to New Zealand aboard a cargo vessel inside a shipping container. These come in two sizes—20ft and 40ft. The size and volume of your shipment will dictate which size and type of container your shipment needs, and it will affect your choice of LCL or FCL ocean shipping.

We go into more detail about both below. Briefly, though, LCL shipping is where your goods share a container, while with FCL shipping you get a container exclusively for your cargo.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to New Zealand

Circumstances in which you’ll probably want to choose LCL shipping include:

  • When your consignment is small
  • When your goods aren’t urgently required at the destination
  • When your products cannot be sent as air freight
  • When your freight can be safely shipped alongside other goods in a shared container

While many businesses find LCL the most cost-effective way to transport goods, there are downsides. Logistics necessities known as consolidation and deconsolidation can make LCL shipping slower than FCL. You will also have no control over the type of goods your freight will share a container with.

As a result, some businesses choose to avoid LCL shipping when:

  • They are transporting fragile or perishable cargo
  • They don’t want their freight handled more often than necessary
  • They can’t accept delays to their shipment
  • Their goods are awkwardly-shaped, heavy, or large and not suited to sharing a container

Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to New Zealand

Many companies will opt for full container load shipping when:

  • Their goods have to be in New Zealand by a specific date
  • Their consignment is large enough to fill at least half of a 20ft shipping container
  • Their cargo is delicate or heavy
  • They want their container sealed at the point of origin, and for it to remain sealed until received by the consignee

Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in New Zealand


Port Facts:

  • New Zealand’s biggest seaport by container throughput
  • A natural harbor located between Auckland and Wellington
  • Container terminal is situated at Sulphur Point
  • Dedicated road and rail routes allow for easy movement of goods out of the port

Owned By: Port of Tauranga Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated on the northern shores of Lyttelton Harbor, South Island
  • Serves as a gateway to Canterbury and Christchurch
  • Also known as Te Whaka and Te Whakaraupo
  • Ranks as New Zealand’s third-biggest container port.

Owned By: Lyttelton Port Company.

Annual Container Volume: >420,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on North Island, 500 kilometers north of Wellington
  • Features 55 hectares of wharves and storage areas
  • Infrastructure includes two world-class container terminals—Fergusson and Bledisloe
  • The owners have committed to achieving zero emissions by 2040

Owned By: Ports of Auckland.

Annual Container Volume: >930,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Commonly referred to as CentrePort
  • Strategically located for easy access to both Eastern and Western areas of New Zealand
  • Sports the best refrigerated freight handling and storage facilities in the country

Owned By: CentrePort Wellington.

Annual Container Volume: >78,000 TEUs.


Air Shipping for Your Freight to New Zealand

Freight forwarders will use passenger services or cargo-only carriers to ship your goods to New Zealand by air. It’s the fastest way to transport commercial goods and is ideal if:

  • You need to get your consignment to New Zealand as quickly as possible
  • Your goods are fragile or have a short shelf-life
  • You are only sending a small consignment—no more than three pallets
  • Your freight is high-value and will benefit from the high security offered by airlines and airports

Airports of Arrival in New Zealand

Auckland (IATA Code: AKL)

Airport Facts:

  • New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport
  • The main gateway for air freight arriving in the country
  • One of only two New Zealand airports able to accommodate Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s
  • Easy onward transportation of goods to Clevedon, Takanini, and Papakura

Christchurch (IATA Code: CHC)

Airport Facts:

  • Situated in Harewood, a district that’s 12 kilometers northwest of the city center
  • New Zealand’s second-busiest airport
  • Features two perpendicular runways
  • Processes around 30,000 tonnes of cargo every year
  • Recognized as the world’s main gateway to Antarctica with 100 direct flights annually

Wellington (IATA Code: WLG)

Airport Facts:

  • The airport spans a 110-hectare site
  • It’s located in Rongotai, 5.5 kilometers southeast of Wellington
  • Ranks as the third-busiest airport in New Zealand
  • Has a short runway which restricts the number of commercial operators using the facility

Ocean and Air Shipping to New Zealand: Why Choose Shipa Freight?

For easier commercial shipping to New Zealand, choose Shipa Freight. We’ve designed a user-friendly website that makes it faster to get quotes and easier to make bookings and pay for your freight.

As a business backed by Agility, a world-leading logistics company, you can be sure your consignment is in safe hands. We’re equally at home coordinating a small air shipment from Australia to New Zealand as we are a multi-container ocean consignment from Europe.

More reasons to choose Shipa Freight when exporting to New Zealand include:

  • Our friendly customer service team, ready to help 24/7 by phone, email, or live chat
  • Our simplification of customs clearance processes
  • Our commitment to ensure your shipment adheres to rules and regulations
  • Our guidance to ensure the right documents accompany your shipment

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