It’s hard to say goodbye to a pet, but it can be very complicated to immigrate with one. Before you make a decision about bringing your pet with you to New Zealand, take all of the issues into consideration. You’ll need to start the process up to six months before you move, ensuring that your pet has the proper medical clearance. The long journey could be very hard on some animals, particularly older ones, and then they are going to be stuck in quarantine for a month after arriving in New Zealand. All in all, moving your dog or cat to New Zealand is likely to cost several thousand dollars.

Moving your dog to New Zealand will cost you.

Moving your pet to New Zealand can be complicated and expensive. Photo © Eli Duke, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Certain breeds of dog have been banned in New Zealand, and if your pet is one of these, you will not be allowed to bring it into the country.Before you even consider moving your dog or cat, a visit to the vet is necessary. Your pet will need up-to-date rabies shots, a microchip, and certain blood tests required by New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries is in charge of animal imports and can give you all of the forms and details. A rabies test must be taken at least six months before the animal comes to New Zealand, and the test will be repeated before the animal can leave quarantine.

There are only five approved quarantine facilities in the whole country, so you’ll have to arrange a place for your pet and pay the boarding fees, which run $15-50 per day depending on the facility and the size of your pet. Because of this quarantine rule, your pet will be met at the airport by a ministry official and taken directly to quarantine. You’ll be able to visit with your pet during the 30 days of quarantine, but this can still be a pretty traumatic period for a dog or cat to endure.

Certain breeds of dog have been banned in New Zealand, and if your pet is one of these, you will not be allowed to bring it into the country: American pit bull terrier, Dogo Argentino, Japanese tosa, and Brazilian fila. Crossbreeds containing those breeds are also banned.

Dangers to Your Pet

Your pet should be quite safe in New Zealand. Rabies and other diseases are well controlled here. Keeping your pet’s shots up to date should take care of most major diseases. Your pet may occasionally suffer a bout of fleas, but this is easily treated.

Many dog owners in New Zealand allow their dogs to walk off leash. This is not officially encouraged, but it is not often prosecuted unless there is an attack of some kind. This means that your dog is always in some potential danger from other, aggressive dogs. If your cat is an outdoor cat, it will also be exposed to more aggressive animals.

One major danger to dogs in the bush and parkland areas is a poison used to control the possum population. The poison is called 1080, and it takes the form of green pellets. If your dog eats any of these pellets or tries to eat a dead possum that has been poisoned, it can be fatal. There is no antidote to 1080, so keep a close eye on pets in the wilderness.

Buying a Pet in New Zealand

Keeping pets is common in New Zealand, so you’ll have no trouble finding an animal companion for your family after you settle in. Dogs and cats are the most common pets. Buying from reputable breeders is the best way to be sure you’re getting a healthy, well-bred pet. Animal shelters, like the SPCA, have dogs and cats waiting for adoption. Puppy mills do exist in New Zealand, so it’s best to avoid buying a dog or cat from an unknown breeder or pet shop.

Cats are often allowed to wander outside, but it is up to you whether you would prefer to have an indoor cat. With the way people drive in New Zealand, I’d be pretty keen to keep my pets off the streets! Along with dogs and cats, you will be able to purchase birds, fish, and other popular companions. Snakes are not permitted in New Zealand.

Dogs must be registered annually, which costs anywhere from $50 to over $100. Registration is done at the regional level, so check with the regional council where you live for its fees and regulations. Domestic dogs must also get microchipped. Rules and fees differ for working dogs on farms and for special needs dogs.


Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Living Abroad New Zealand.