Traveling to New Zealand with a firearm

Airport information and arrival process 

Traveling to New Zealand to hunt is not difficult when you have good information, especially when it comes to travelling with a firearm.  And if you’re knowledgeable of the general requirements for traveling internationally to hunt, you should find the process for travelling with a firearm much easier for New Zealand than many other destinations. 

Today, speak to any seasoned traveler and you will soon know that airplane travel is the most difficult and sometimes trying aspect of any journey. Customer service appears to be an unknown term in the airline’s dictionary. And furthermore, it is slightly more complicated when flying with a checked firearm. But only in the sense that it is very difficult to obtain accurate and reliable information on checking firearms. However, if you are knowledgeable of the general requirements, you should have no problem with the process. We take the time here to offer you some basic insight to making the journey to New Zealand from home and remember - we're always only a phone call away. 

Here's what to remember

Advise your airline. Ensure your airline has a note on your reservation that you will be checking in a firearm(s) and ammunition at least two weeks before your flight.  It’s easiest to advise them at the time of booking. 

Ammunition allowance  & packaging. Limit your ammunition to 60 rounds or less.  The FAA limit is about 10+ lbs. Keep your ammo packed in the factory boxes, or use ONLY packaging designed specifically for ammo.  

 Always pack your ammo with your main luggage in an easy to find place in case you are asked to present it for weighing.  Never pack your ammo in your rifle case – this is typically an airline requirement.

Packing your firearm for travel:

Note: Different airlines may have different firearm baggage check requirements so it’s best to make it easy on yourself – be aware of these in advance by obtaining your airline(s) baggage check requirements.  

Ensure your firearm is unloaded, checked in an ‘airline suitable’ or approved case. 

If your rifle is a bolt action, remove the bolt, and place it in the firearm case wrapped in something soft. Never put it in any other check-in bag.

All extra firearm parts – scopes, slings, magazines, cleaning kits, ANYTHING that looks like a part or used on a firearm must be placed in your checked rifle case as well. Remember to place hunting knives and anything else that could be considered a weapon in here too. 

On your day of departure:

Arrive at least 3 hours before departure.  At the airline check-in desk, advise the agent immediately that you have a firearm(s) and ammo to check.  It can be helpful to state  it should be noted on your reservation record. 

The check-in agent will ask you to sign a card which states the firearm is unloaded.  Once signed, you will place it in your rifle case. The airline does not ask to see or handle the firearm. Remember to lock your case.

After you have checked in and received your boarding passes, tell the agent you will stay near the desk, and in 15 mins or so, ask the agent if the firearm went through TSA screening ok – much better than being called back and having to go through security again. When you are confident it is cleared, proceed through security and your gate as normal. 

Arrival in Auckland

Your firearm should be checked all the way through your itinerary; however, you will need to obtain your NZ Firearms permit and clear NZ customs in Auckland, before checking in for your domestic flight from Auckland to Palmerston North. So here is this routine. 

Enter passport control on arrival - they will typically ask you why you are there and for how long. Simple and truthful answers are the  only way to go. 

Proceed to baggage claim and on the arrival carousel, pick-up your checked bag (not firearm case). Use a cart – its free. Then proceed to the Police desk, directly opposite the carousel, where your firearm case will be brought from the plane (it should not be on the carousel) 

Present your Firearm Application form to the officer.  the one you have faxed in as per our instructions when you book your hunt). They will recover your file and then ask you to open the case to verify the Serial No., stamp your permit, and collect their NZ$25 fee. 

With your permit now cleared and in hand, proceed to NZ Customs, provide them with your customs arrival form and your cleared NZ Firearms permit. Once you have cleared customs, you will exit the arrival hall and you will need to proceed to the NZ Domestic Terminal.

The Domestic Terminal is about a 15 minute walk or 5 minute transfer ride from the International Terminal. Its nice to get some fresh air and walk between terminals, and there are free buses available if its raining.  From Auckland its only a 45 minute flight to Taupo where we'll meet you with a firm handshake and big smile.  

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