Arriving at Auckland Airport: A Step-by-Step Guide ✈️ [2023]


Welcome to New Zealand!

After a long gruelling flight, you have finally touched down on New Zealand soil. Auckland Airport is most likely your arrival airport, as it is the busiest international airport in New Zealand, as well as the cheapest airport to fly into when travelling to New Zealand.

As you probably guessed from the questions asked on your Passenger Arrival Card, Customs is very specific on what you cannot bring into the country. They do this to protect the environment and economy of New Zealand. So, when arriving in New Zealand, you will need to go through both a Customs and Biosecurity process. However, it is nothing to worry about if you just follow the steps in this guide to arriving at Auckland Airport.

For more information on arriving in New Zealand, no matter which airport you arrive at, see Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process.

6 Easy Steps to Passing Through Customs in New Zealand

Here is what to expect when you land at Auckland Airport after taking an international flight:

  • Step 1: Exit the plane
  • Step 2: Duty-free
  • Step 3: Passport control and Customs declaration
  • Step 4: Baggage claim
  • Step 5: Biosecurity
  • Step 6: Leave Auckland Airport.

Let’s go through each step of arriving at Auckland Airport one by one…

Pexels© Pexels

Step 1: Exit the Plane

“Are you kidding? Exiting the plane? I am not a complete moron!” We hear you cry to your screen as you read this. But there is a right and wrong way of doing this.

As soon as you land after a long flight, everyone is going to be eager to get off the plane as quickly as possible. This means pushing people, elbowing the elderly in the face, and so on.

You are in for a long wait at Customs and Immigration anyway, so it’s best to just take your time. Let all the pushers and shovers get off the plane first and then casually stroll off the plane with your carry-on luggage strung over your bad self.©

Step 2: Duty-Free

While you are heading to the exit for Passport Control, you get to pass through the shiny stuff at duty-free. Here you can grab a bargain without the GST (Goods and Services Tax) on goods.

Honestly, the duty-free deals at the Auckland Airport are hardly “deals” when you can get much of the alcohol, New Zealand chocolate and honey for much cheaper in New Zealand supermarkets. If you can’t resist perfumes and the like, it’s probably a better idea to shop duty-free as you leave the country, so you are not carrying extra weight in your luggage.

The Auckland Aiport is not your only duty-free option when shopping in New Zealand, so be sure to check out our guide to Duty-Free Shopping in New Zealand to learn more about all of your options.

pxhere© pxhere

Step 3: Passport Control and Customs Declaration

This is the part you need to sweat for. Joking, of course, everything is pretty easy. All you need is your passport and your completed Passenger Arrival Card, which you will have filled out on the plane. It is also a good idea to have a hard copy of your visa (if you are from a visa-waiver country, just your passport and NZeTA will be enough – see Visitor Visa: Do You Need a Visa to Visit New Zealand? for more advice). If everything is all good on your arrival card, they will return your card to you to show again at Biosecurity.

It is unlikely that the Immigration officer will ask you too many questions. But if preparation gives you a buzz, then these are the questions you may be asked:

  • Do you have anything to declare? You will have to declare what you have stated on your Passenger Arrival Card. For example, if you have brought sports equipment, state that to the Immigration officer.
  • What is the purpose of your trip? Basically say what your visa is: working holiday, visitor, etc.
  • Do you have a return ticket or sufficient funds for a return ticket? Show the appropriate evidence, such as a hard copy of a recent bank statement or outward travel ticket.
  • Do you have sufficient funds required for your visa? Show the appropriate evidence, such as a hard copy of a recent bank statement.
  • Do you have any contacts in the country? Give contact details if you know anyone in the country. If you don’t have a contact, no worries.
  • Where are you going to be staying for the first few days? Have the address of your accommodation on hand.
  • Where was your last destination? State your home country or the last country you visited, if you are not coming straight from home.
  • Have you visited New Zealand before?
  • Do you have any food with you? State what foods you have, if any. There will be bins around to dispose of fresh or unpackaged food, which is unlikely to pass through Biosecurity.
  • How much cash do you have on you today? If you have NZ$10,000+ or the foreign equivalent, then you’ll have to go through a Border Cash Report.

The Immigration officer will give you that long-awaited stamp on your passport. Then you’ll be on your way! Easy!


Things are made easier for those with a passport from New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK, Canada, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands, as you guys can use the eGate. You can even use it if you’re from one of these countries and are on a working holiday or student visa, as these visas are electronic.

After scanning your passport, a camera will scan your face to see if it matches the passport. Make sure you are not wearing glasses for the scan. If you are successful, the magical gate will open! If not, see the Immigration officer at the desk.

For more information about this step, see Arrival Advice: Passport Control and Immigration.©

Step 4: Baggage Claim

Now, you’ve reached Baggage Claim. Find the carousel that matches your flight number and grab your checked-in baggage.

Can’t decide what sort of bag to take? Check out our Backpack Vs Suitcase guide, or How to Choose a Backpack to Travel New Zealand.©

Step 5: Biosecurity

And now you wait in the long queue to go through Biosecurity. First, choose the lane according to your passport nationality and whether you have or have not got something to declare.

Once you reach the desk, you will be asked if you have anything to declare. Refer to what you have ticked on the Passenger Arrival Card. If you are in doubt about anything that you have packed, just declare it!

Take a look at What Do You Need to Declare When Arriving in New Zealand? If you have declared something that did not need declaring, then you will walk through with no problem. If you declare a relevant item then you will either have to surrender your item or pay the correct tax. Finally, if you don’t declare something that should have been declared, you will face a NZ$400 fine; bad times.

One of the most common things people get stopped for at Biosecurity is for having used camping gear and/or hiking shoes. If they are dirty, you will be given a brush to start scrubbing! So, it’s best to clean all your sports and outdoor gear before you pack your bags for New Zealand.

Your luggage will then go through an x-ray machine. If needed, a Biosecurity officer will open your bag.

If all is well and you have been a good tourist, you will have successfully made it into New Zealand. Congratulations!

For more information on this step, see Arrival Advice: Biosecurity and Customs in New Zealand.


Step 6: Get Out of Auckland Airport

Time to discover New Zealand! There are a few ways to leave the airport, including an airport shuttle service, taxi, Uber, public transport and the express bus to Auckland Central.

Get advice on picking the best-value option for you in The Cheapest Airport Transfers for Auckland Airport.

Maps of the International Terminal of Auckland Airport

See larger maps

Arriving at Auckland Airport, New Zealand© Auckland Airport


Arriving at Auckland Airport, New Zealand© Auckland Airport


More on Arriving at Auckland Airport

That’s it for our step-by-step guide to arriving at Auckland Airport. Easy, wasn’t it? If you have any more doubts, be reassured by our other handy guides:

Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Arriving in New Zealand: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & the Arrival Process.


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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