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Ocean and Air Shipping from New Zealand to Australia

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New Zealand and Australia’s trade relationship is one of the closest and mutually compatible in the world. The two countries have committed to creating a seamless economic environment, making it easy for New Zealanders to do business in Australia and vice versa.

Maybe you are already importing from New Zealand to Australia or planning to participate in the active trade between the two nations. Experienced shippers, as well as novices, will find valuable information on this page.

We aim to provide some of the guidance and advice that will make shipping easier for everyone.

What Are Your Options for Shipping From New Zealand to Australia?

There are two ways to import from New Zealand to Australia — air and sea. Both modes of transport have their pros and cons, as we’ll explain in the following sections.


Ocean Freight From New Zealand to Australia

Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL, you send your goods in a shared container instead of hiring a whole unit. This can be the most economical option when moving smaller freight shipments from New Zealand to Australia.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL, you get to use a full shipping container exclusively for your cargo. As you have to pay a flat fee to send each container from New Zealand to Australia, FCL shipping is worthwhile for larger, heavier consignments.


Air Freight from New Zealand to Australia

Air freight is the fastest way to move your commercial goods between New Zealand and Australia. However, be aware that it is more expensive than ocean shipping in most cases.


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

Calculator to represent the cost of Shipa Freight's quotes

Several factors determine the final cost of your export from New Zealand to Australia. Freight forwarders calculate quotes based on the following criteria:

  • Type of cargo
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimensions of the cargo
  • Distance between origin and destination
  • Type of service (such as Port-to-Port, Door-to-Door)

The factor that has a big impact on your final cost is the weight of your cargo. You will find that sea freight can commonly be cost-effective for consignments weighing 100 kg and more. However, for cargo under 100 kg, you won’t notice much of a difference between the cost of air and ocean shipping.

If you are shipping very light goods weighing 35 kg or under, then be aware that most freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, won’t handle them. Instead, you can engage an international courier service to do the job.


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

It’s no surprise that the transit times for air freight are much shorter than for ocean shipping. While an air-freight carrier can send your goods from New Zealand to Australia in five to eight days, maritime carriers will need anything from 12 to 37 days to ship your ocean freight.


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

Below are sample transit times for transporting a shipping container from New Zealand to Australia:

  • Auckland to Brisbane – 14 days LCL
  • Auckland to Fremantle – 25 days LCL
  • Auckland to Melbourne – 26 days FCL, 12 days LCL
  • Auckland to Sydney – 25 days FCL
  • Tauranga to Sydney – 26 days FCL
  • Wellington to Sydney – 37 days FCL
  • Wellington to Brisbane - 26 days FCL

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

Below are some examples of transit times for air freight services between New Zealand and Australia:

  • Wellington to Brisbane – 5 to 8 days
  • Christchurch to Sydney – 5 to 8 days
  • Auckland to Adelaide – 5 to 8 days

Customs Clearance in New Zealand and Australia

Despite the close relationship between New Zealand and Australia, customs formalities are still part of the process of shipping your goods. Due to the complexity of the task, many businesses prefer to engage an experienced freight forwarder to manage the customs clearance. An expert can help avoid any delays and ensure that your freight complies with international shipping laws and regulations.

That said, there is still paperwork that you have to provide. The following documents are the ones that customs authorities expect to see before clearing any goods for export or import:

  1. Commercial Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. Certificate of Origin
  4. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  5. Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

You might be asked to provide additional documentation; licenses, permits, or certificates, for example. If you’d like to learn more about the various documents and see some examples, please visit our documents list page.


Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?


Ocean Freight

New Zealand and Australia are separated by the Tasman Sea in the Southwestern Pacific Ocean. Most commercial goods ship from port to port in standard 20ft or 40ft shipping containers that are loaded onto specialized cargo vessels.

If your sea freight requires a different type of container (e.g., refrigerated or ventilated), or it won’t fit into a container at all, then your freight forwarder or carrier can recommend appropriate options.

When it comes to containerized ocean shipping, there are two approaches for you to consider: LCL and FCL. The below information will help you to decide on the best option for your logistics needs.


Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL shipping is best if:

  • You’re moving only small quantities of goods (14 CBM, around six standard pallets, or less).
  • You don’t have an urgent need for your freight in Australia.
  • You want to avoid the hassle of having to choose container sizes and types.
  • Your cargo can be shipped in a shared container.
  • Sending your consignment as air freight is not a viable option.

Avoid LCL shipping if:

  • Your freight is very delicate, perishable, or high-value.
  • Frequent movements and additional handling could damage your goods.
  • You can’t accept delays or miss an important delivery deadline.
  • Your goods are very large and/or heavy.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Sending your goods as FCL is best if:

  • You need your freight in Australia by a certain date.
  • You prefer that your goods remain sealed in a container until they reach their final destination.
  • Your cargo is very delicate or heavy.
  • Your consignment is bigger than 14 CBM (around half the load capacity of a 20ft container).

Air Freight

Air shipping is the right option if:

  • The recipient in Australia needs the cargo urgently.
  • Speed of delivery is more important to you than cost.
  • Your high-value cargo requires the strict security measures provided by airports and airlines.
  • Your freight has a limited shelf-life.
  • You’re transporting a light and/or small consignment — two to three pallets at most.
  • The supplier and recipient are based closer to an international airport than a seaport.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide


Cargo Ports of Origin in New Zealand


Auckland

Port Facts:

  • Located on Waitemata Harbour, north of Auckland's central business district.
  • Wharves and storage areas cover 55 hectares.
  • Home to the three largest container cranes in New Zealand.
  • Committed to achieving zero emissions by 2040.

Owned By: Ports of Auckland.

Annual Container Volume: >930,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: NZAKL.


Tauranga

Port Facts:

  • New Zealand’s largest port by cargo volume and container throughput.
  • Located in the only natural harbor between Auckland and Wellington.
  • Facilities include 15 berths and 2.5 hectares of covered storage area.

Owned By: Port of Tauranga Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: NZTRG.


Lyttelton

Port Facts:

  • Third-largest container port in New Zealand and the biggest seaport on South Island.
  • Main export gateway for shippers in Canterbury and Christchurch.
  • The port operates four gantry cranes.

Owned By: Lyttelton Port Company.

Annual Container Volume: >420,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: NZLYT.


Wellington

Port Facts:

  • Mainly known as CentrePort Wellington.
  • Smaller port with fresh produce handling and storage facilities.
  • Offers container packing and unpacking services.

Owned By: CentrePort Wellington.

Annual Container Volume: >78,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: NZWLG.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in Australia


Melbourne

Port Facts:

  • Australia’s largest container port.
  • Among the top four container gateways in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Located at the mouth of the Yarra River.
  • Capacity to handle the largest container vessels in the world.

Owned By: The Lonsdale Consortium.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AUMEL.


Sydney

Port Facts:

  • Officially called Port Botany.
  • Largest container facility in the state of New South Wales.
  • Processes over 33% of Australia’s annual container traffic.
  • Covers an area of more than 40 hectares.

Owned By: Sydney Ports Corporation.

Annual Container Volume: >2.6 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AUSTD.


Brisbane

Port Facts:

  • Third-busiest port in Australia, but the fastest-growing one.
  • Located in the lower reaches of the Brisbane River on Fisherman Island.
  • Has 29 berths, including nine deep-water container berths.
  • Ideal for recipients in the state of Queensland.

Owned By: Port of Brisbane Corporation.

Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AUBNE.


Fremantle

Port Facts:

  • Largest and busiest cargo port in Western Australia.
  • Located on the mouth of the Swan River in the Perth Metropolitan Region.
  • Around 1,000 container vessels dock here every year.

Owned By: Fremantle Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >780,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AUFRE.


Adelaide

Port Facts:

  • Located 14 km to the northwest of Adelaide’s central business district.
  • A natural river port of medium size.
  • Container vessels are received, loaded, and unloaded on its 510-meter quay.
  • Features a 23-hectare cargo terminal with 3,000 square meters of warehouse space.

Owned By: Flinders Ports Pty Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >322,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AUADL.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide


Airports of Origin in New Zealand


Auckland

Airport Facts:

  • New Zealand’s largest and busiest airport.
  • Located near Airport Oaks, a service hub suburb 21 km south of Auckland’s city center.
  • One of only two airports in the country able to handle Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s.
  • Capable of managing 45 flight movements per hour.

Australian Airports Served: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide.

Auckland to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: DHL Aviation, Qantas Freight, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Airwork, FedEx Express.

IATA Code: AKL.


Wellington

Airport Facts:

  • Located 5.5 km southeast of Wellington’s city center.
  • Covers a site of 110 hectares.
  • Used to be known as Rongotai Airport.
  • The short runway limits the number of air carriers able to use the airport.

Australian Airports Served: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney.

Wellington to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: WLG.


Christchurch

Airport Facts:

  • Located 12 km northwest of Christchurch’s city center.
  • Became the first international airport in New Zealand in 1950.
  • Handles an annual air-cargo volume of 30,000 tonnes.

Australian Airports Served: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth.

Christchurch to Australia Cargo-Only Operators: DHL Aviation, Parcelair, Qantas Freight.

IATA Code: CHC.


Airports of Arrival in Australia


Melbourne

Airport Facts:

  • Second-busiest airport in Australia.
  • Located 23 km northwest of Melbourne’s central business district.
  • Officially called Tullamarine Airport.
  • Over 30% of air freight is entering or leaving Australia via this airport.

Connected Airports in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington.

New Zealand to Melbourne Cargo-Only Operators: Singapore Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: MEL.


Sydney

Airport Facts:

  • Handles 45% of Australia’s air freight.
  • Located eight kilometers south of central Sydney.
  • Has seven terminals and three runways.
  • Up to 41 aircraft stands can accommodate incoming freighters.

Connected Airports in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington.

New Zealand to Sydney Cargo-Only Operators: Parcelair, Airwork, FedEx Express, DHL Aviation, Qantas Freight, Singapore Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: SYD.


Adelaide

Airport Facts:

  • Located six kilometers west of Adelaide’s city center.
  • Can accommodate wide-body aircraft.
  • Offers routes to nine international destinations.
  • Most cargo arrives here in the belly space of passenger aircraft.

Connected Airports in New Zealand: Auckland.

New Zealand to Adelaide Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA CODE: ADL.


Perth

Airport Facts:

  • Fourth-busiest airport in Australia.
  • Situated ten kilometers east of central Perth.
  • Has two runways that can accommodate wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A380.
  • Offers the first direct route between Oceania and Europe.

Connected Airports in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch.

New Zealand to Perth Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA CODE: PER.


Brisbane

Airport Facts:

Third-biggest air freight facility in Australia. Handles 13% of Australian air freight imports and exports. Around 190,000 tonnes of cargo are moved through the airport annually. Offers connections to 50 domestic and 29 international destinations.

Connected Airports in New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington.

New Zealand to Brisbane Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: BNE.


Why Ship From New Zealand to Australia With Shipa Freight?

Shipping your freight from New Zealand to Australia will be much easier when you partner with an expert freight forwarder like Shipa Freight. Our cutting-edge online platform will simplify your shipping process and help you speed up your supply chain. You can rely on us to get your air and ocean shipments on the way to Australia quickly and efficiently.

The benefits of shipping with us include:

  • Receive and compare quotes instantly online.
  • Make your bookings and payments online, too.
  • Know which paperwork you need to send with your consignment.
  • No need to manage customs requirements—because we will do it for you.
  • Oversee your entire shipping process on one platform.
  • Have your questions answered 24/7 by our friendly team of customer service advisors.
  • Enjoy peace of mind, knowing that your shipments will always comply with international shipping rules and regulations.

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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