By: Blonde Two

The first time I ever arrived at Auckland airport I was a little bit surprised when, before we were allowed to disembark, the cabin crew walked through the plane spraying all of the passengers with what turns out was some kind of insecticide. I can only imagine the fuss that would be made now if that was still the practice. New Zealand, quite rightly, wants to protect its agricultural assets by limiting the number of pests and diseases that are permitted entry into from other countries. As pests and diseases don’t usually carry passports or visas, the only way for the authorities to do this is through a strict system of biocontrol declarations and checks (I believe the very first pest passport is due to be trialled in 2020). Biocontrol can be a tad disconcerting if you aren’t expecting it, you have landed safely after a 24+ hour trip, you have collected your baggage, you have cleared immigration, you are expecting to meet your loved ones… and then you have another queue to face. However, there are ways to be prepared for biocontrol at New Zealand airports, ways that will also help you to do your bit to protect the lovely country you are coming to visit.

Food items you have to declare at biosecurity

All food items you are bringing into New Zealand must be declared on your passenger arrival card (you will be given one of these on the plane or there are some available as you move through arrivals). However, you are allowed to bring in some food for ‘personal use’. You can check out the details here but, the main banned foodstuffs that you won’t be allowed to bring in are, fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and fish and honey and bee products.

Be prepared to ask questions if you aren’t sure about your food items but be aware that all of your bags will be scanned and that fines exist if you inadvertently have undeclared food items. Never again will the possibility of a stray apple make you so nervous!

Other items you have to declare at biosecurity

You are unlikely to be travelling with endangered species (or their products) or live animals but your arrival card will take you through other items that you might not have considered to be an issue (more information here). For most of our readers, the main biosecurity consideration will be outdoor and camping equipment, all of which will need to be clean of soil and plant matter. Mr B2 and I spend a lot of time before we travel making sure that everything that needs to be has been scrubbed within an inch of its life (Mr B2 once scrubbed a whole bike!) We use a disinfectant solution and a lot of elbow grease, and usually get the impression that our efforts have been appreciated. The biosecurity staff will want to inspect any outdoor gear that is considered a risk so pack it near to the top of your bag and know where to find it.

Cooperating with biosecurity

Although the queues for biosecurity can sometimes feel like the last straw after a long journey, New Zealand’s natural environment really is worth protecting as much as possible, so do your bit to be as polite and cooperative with the authorities. A smile and a friendly word goes a long way and, if they take your walking boots off to clean them again despite all of your efforts, don’t be surprised, just be grateful you have such shiny-looking boots!