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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping From New Zealand to the UK [Updated: Jul 2021]

FCL, LCL and Air freight forwarding: information and online quote

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Updated on 04 Jul 202112 min read

Trade between New Zealand and the United Kingdom totaled $6.6 billion in 2019. Meat, wine, honey, and wool were among the main exports. Whatever products you’re seeking to import from New Zealand to the United Kingdom, you’ll find the information on this page handy.

You’ll find details about ocean and air shipping from New Zealand to the United Kingdom as well as profiles of key ports and airports in both nations. There is also a wealth of information about customs clearance, shipping times, and freight costs.

What are Your Options for Shipping From New Zealand to the UK?

The only way for your business to ship commercial freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom is via sea or air. With close to 19,000 kilometers separating Wellington and London, cargo transit times between New Zealand and England are measured in weeks, while air freight shipments can be completed in a matter of days.

Ocean Freight From New Zealand to the United Kingdom

Less than Container Load (LCL): If your consignment is small—less than 14 cubic meters in volume—LCL is likely to offer you the most cost-effective way to ship a container from New Zealand to the United Kingdom. Your goods will share a container with other shippers’ freight and will need to be consolidated and deconsolidated. These essential logistics steps can often mean that LCL shipments require a few more days to complete than goods shipped as a full container load.

Full Container Load (FCL): If the volume of your consignment is over 14 cubic meters, FCL is likely to be the best option for your freight. You’ll pay a flat rate for the exclusive use and carriage of a shipping container from New Zealand to the United Kingdom aboard a cargo vessel.

Air Freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom

Flying your freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom offers the quickest way to ship it, but is considerably more expensive than ocean freight. With no direct flights between the two countries, your goods will need to be loaded and transported on two or more flights to reach the UK.

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

When you request a shipping quote, the freight forwarder will need several items of information about your consignment to calculate the cost, including:

  • The nature of the freight
  • If it’s being shipped by air or ocean
  • How much the freight weighs
  • The cargo’s volume and dimensions
  • The origin and destination of the shipment
  • The type of delivery service requested—port-to-port, door-to-port, door-to-door, or port-to-door

The weight of your consignment not only affects the cost of the shipment; it can also determine which mode of transport you choose. Shipments tipping the scales at over 100 kilograms are usually more cost-effective to ship as ocean freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

Consignments weighing under 100 kilograms are likely to cost a similar amount whether shipped by ocean or air. The lightest loads (those weighing 35 kilograms and under) aren’t handled by freight forwarders, but international couriers will be pleased to carry them.

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

If you’re shipping to meet an urgent deadline, air cargo carriers offer by far the fastest way to import from New Zealand to the UK. Three to eight days is the typical time required for air freight. Transporting a shipping container from New Zealand to the United Kingdom takes much longer. Around seven weeks is the usual transit time for ocean cargo.

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

The majority of ocean freight services that can bring a container from New Zealand to the United Kingdom take around 57 days to make the voyage. Certainly that’s the case for container vessels traveling from Auckland to Southampton.

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

Air freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom is significantly quicker than ocean freight, with shipments from Auckland to Manchester typically completing in eight days, including time spent in consolidation and under customs clearance.

Customs Clearance in New Zealand and the United Kingdom

Many formalities are involved in the process of importing from New Zealand to the United Kingdom. The rules and regulations governing customs clearance, in particular, are complicated—so much so that businesses often hire freight forwarders to manage the process. A forwarder’s expertise can reduce the chances of delays to your shipment and ensure it complies with shipping laws.

However, a forwarder can’t do all the work for you. It will be necessary for you to provide information enabling your forwarder to complete documents essential to ensure compliance with customs procedures. The documents that officials in New Zealand and the UK will want to see include:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  • Airway Bill for air shipping, or a Bill of Lading for ocean cargo (this will be provided by your freight forwarder or carrier)

You can see examples of these documents on our documents list page. Other paperwork may be required to accompany your consignment. Your freight forwarder will help you determine if extra documents, such as certificates, permits, and/or licenses are required.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

An ocean vessel will transport your shipping container from New Zealand to the United Kingdom at an average speed of 35 km/h. The journey takes at least seven weeks from port to port, so only consignments that aren’t urgently required in the UK should be shipped as sea freight.

Most goods ship in 20ft or 40ft containers. Your goods will stay in their container for the duration of the journey. Different types of containers are available. Your freight forwarder will advise which container is best for your consignment and will also help you decide between LCL and FCL ocean shipping.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Less-than-container-load (LCL) shipping is a good choice if:

  • Your consignment is less than 14 cubic meters in volume
  • The consignee in the United Kingdom can wait several weeks for the freight
  • Your goods can be safely shipped in the same container as other shippers’ goods
  • Sending your goods as air freight isn’t feasible

LCL shipping is best avoided if:

  • Your freight is fragile or perishable
  • Your consignment is extremely large, heavy, or made up of awkwardly-shaped items
  • You need a more predictable transit time—LCL cargo is subject to consolidation and deconsolidation which typically increase overall shipping time

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Full-container-load shipping (FCL) is advisable if:

  • You want the mode of ocean shipping that’s least susceptible to delays
  • The goods being shipped are extremely delicate or very heavy
  • The volume of your consignment is greater than 14 cubic meters

Air Freight

Aside from velocity, importing from New Zealand to the United Kingdom using an air shipping service offers the following advantages:

  • You can meet urgent delivery deadlines
  • Airport and airline security is stringent, a benefit if you are shipping high-value items
  • Your delicate or perishable cargo will reach the UK in good condition

That said, if your shipments will comprise high volumes of freight, you’ll need to have a substantial logistics budget to fly them. Air freight is more suited to shipments occupying no more than two or three pallets.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in New Zealand

Wellington

Port Facts:

  • Commonly known as CentrePort Wellington
  • A naturally sheltered harbor
  • Located in the center of New Zealand’s freight and transport system

Owned By: CentrePort Wellington. Annual Container Volume: >78,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: NZWLG.

Lyttelton

Port Facts:

  • New Zealand’s third-largest freight hub
  • The largest seaport on South Island
  • Ideal port of departure for any supplier based in Canterbury or Christchurch
  • Handles multiple types of cargo including petroleum, fertilizer, and cement

Owned By: Lyttelton Port Company. Annual Container Volume: >420,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: NZLYT.

Auckland

Port Facts:

  • Situated to the north of Auckland in Waitemata Harbour
  • The port’s wharves and storage areas occupy 55 hectares
  • The port’s owners are committed to achieving zero emissions by 2040
  • Infrastructure includes the three largest container cranes in the country, each standing 114 meters-high

Owned By: Ports of Auckland. Annual Container Volume: >930,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: NZAKL.

Tauranga

Port Facts:

  • Located in the Bay of Plenty
  • New Zealand’s largest port by freight volume
  • Located in the only natural harbor between Wellington and Auckland
  • Infrastructure includes 15 berths and 2.5 hectares of storage areas

Owned By: Port of Tauranga Ltd. Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: NZTRG.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the United Kingdom

Belfast

Port Facts:

  • Handles nearly 70% of Northern Ireland’s ocean freight
  • 24.6 million tonnes of commercial goods were processed here in 2019
  • Turnover of $88m in 2019

Owned By: Belfast Harbor Commissioners. Annual Container Volume: >125,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBBEL.

Southampton

Port Facts:

  • Situated on the South Coast of England
  • A deepwater port in The Solent, 16 kilometers inland from the English Channel
  • Facilities can handle almost any type of freight
  • Easy access to the M27 motorway and the UK rail network

Owned By: Associated British Ports. Annual Container Volume: >1.9 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBSOU

London Gateway

Port Facts:

  • A new port on the River Thames, east of Central London
  • Rated as the UK’s most technologically-advanced port
  • Has the capacity to host the world’s largest cargo vessels
  • About half of London’s containerized cargo is handled here
  • A fourth berth for cargo vessels is planned

Owned By: DP World. Annual Container Volume: >2.7 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBLGP.

Teesport

Port Facts:

  • A shipping gateway in Northeastern England
  • Situated on the River Tees
  • Ideal if your supply chain moves goods from Northern English towns and cities such as Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Newcastle, and Hartlepool

Owned By: PD Ports. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBTEE.

Grangemouth

Port Facts:

  • Situated on the Firth of Forth in Central Scotland
  • Handles nine million tonnes of cargo every year
  • Over two-thirds of Scotland’s population lives within one hour’s drive of the cargo hub

Owned By: Forth Ports. Annual Container Volume: >250,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBGRG.

Felixstowe

Port Facts:

  • Located in Suffolk in Eastern England
  • Processes around 50% of the UK’s containerized cargo
  • Europe’s seventh-busiest cargo hub
  • The world’s 50th-busiest port for cargo movements
  • Conveniently situated for onward movement of goods by rail or road to London and cities such as Cambridge, Ipswich, and Norwich

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings. Annual Container Volume: >3.5 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: GBFXT.

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in New Zealand

Auckland

Airport Facts:

  • Ranks as New Zealand’s biggest and busiest airport
  • Situated near Airport Oaks, 21 kilometers outside Auckland’s city center
  • This single runway facility can handle Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s

UK Airports Served: None. Auckland to the UK Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: AKL.

Wellington

Airport Facts:

  • Formerly known as Rongotai Airport
  • Situated 5.5 kilometers outside Wellington’s city center
  • A 110-hectare facility
  • Has a short runway, which limits the size of aircraft that can use the airport

UK Airports Served: None. Wellington to the UK Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: WLG.

Christchurch

Airport Facts:

  • Located 12 kilometers outside Christchurch
  • Was New Zealand’s first international airport when it opened in 1950
  • Two runways accommodate aircraft that transport 30,000 tonnes of cargo per year

UK Airports Served: None. Christchurch to the UK Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: CHC.

Airports of Arrival in the United Kingdom

Manchester

Airport Facts:

  • A global gateway to towns and cities in Northern England
  • Located 12 kilometers outside Manchester City Center
  • The fourth-busiest air cargo facility in the UK
  • Infrastructure includes two runways and a 510,000 square-meter cargo terminal
  • No direct flights from New Zealand

Connected Airports in New Zealand: None. New Zealand to Manchester Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: MAN.

Glasgow

Airport Facts:

  • The second-biggest airport in Scotland (Edinburgh is the biggest)
  • Situated 15 kilometers outside of central Glasgow
  • Road and rail links ensure easy onward transportation of goods to destinations across Scotland

Connected Airports in New Zealand: None. New Zealand to Glasgow Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: GLA.

London Heathrow

Airport Facts:

  • The biggest air cargo hub in the UK
  • Situated close to the M25 motorway that circles London
  • Has two runways, the longest extending for 3,902 meters
  • Annual cargo throughput is predicted to increase to three million tonnes by 2040

Connected Airports in New Zealand: None. New Zealand to London-Heathrow Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: LHR.

Birmingham

Airport Facts:

  • A key gateway for Central England
  • Located 13 kilometers outside England’s second city—Birmingham
  • Well-served by road and rail links to multiple UK destinations
  • No direct flights from New Zealand

Connected Airports in New Zealand: None. New Zealand to Birmingham Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: BHX.

Why Ship From New Zealand to the UK With Shipa Freight?

Let Shipa Freight show you how easy and stress-free it can be to export from New Zealand to the United Kingdom. Our digital platform takes much of the complexity out of international shipping. The advantages of engaging Shipa Freight include:

  • Free and fast shipping quotes
  • Easy booking and payment for shipments online using a credit/debit card or wire transfer
  • Guidance about which documents your consignment needs
  • Customs expertise to ensure adherence to shipping rules and regulations
  • 24/7 access to a friendly team of customer service specialists