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Flying to NZ

10 November 2023

Moving to a new country is exciting but requires some preparation. Find out what is involved when flying to NZ, including what you need to do before you leave home and what to expect when you arrive.


Work through our handy checklist to prepare everything required for a smooth transition to study at UC.  You might also find Immigration New Zealand's 'NZ Ready' tool helpful.

Manapou ki te Ao | Education New Zealand has some fantastic resources to utilise before, and during your time in New Zealand, visit their official website for international students - Nau Mai NZ

Christchurch NZ is also a great website to find out more about Ōtautahi - the city you’ll be living in.   


When to arrive

You must arrive in Christchurch and complete your enrolment in person before your courses start. It's also a good idea to give yourself a few extra days to get settled in your accommodation, work out transportation, find your local supermarket, and set up a mobile phone plan and bank account. You are also expected to attend the Welcome Orientation for international students. We therefore recommend arriving at least a week before the start of the semester. 


Arriving in New Zealand

When you arrive at an international airport in New Zealand, you will go through Immigration, Customs, and Biosecurity checks.


Biosecurity in NZ

There are restrictions on what you can bring into New Zealand. When you arrive at any NZ international airport, you will be required to complete an Arrival Card to indicate if you have any fresh fruit or vegetables, plant products, food, or other restricted items in your luggage (including in your carry-on bag and on your person). If you are unsure whether an item you have is prohibited, declare it. If you do not declare any goods that are considered a biosecurity risk, you will likely receive an instant fine (of around NZ$400) or even be prosecuted.

To find out more, visit the following websites:


Arriving at Christchurch International Airport?

  • Pre-arranged pickup - if you have pre-arranged for someone to pick you up from the airport, they will likely be waiting for you in the main Arrivals lounge area (after you have been through Immigration, Customs, and Biosecurity checks.

  • Taxis and shuttles - walk directly outside of the Arrivals terminal to catch a taxi or purchase a space on a shared shuttle van. Common taxi companies you will see are Corporate Cabs, Gold Band Taxis, Blue Star, First Direct, and Green Cabs. It will cost around $25 to $40 NZD to get from the airport to Ilam (where the main UC campus is), depending on which taxi company you ride with, the airport toll, and traffic conditions.  It is most common to pay via a debit card or credit card in taxis in New Zealand. Many taxis accept payWave. If you would like to book a shuttle in advance, New Look Shuttles are a trusted UC supplier. Book here at least 48 hours in advance of your arrival. 

  • Bus No. 3 - purple bus - the bus that will take you to Ilam and the UC Accommodation halls. Buses depart from the northern end of International Arrivals, next to the Novotel hotel car park (exit through Door 9). You can buy a ticket from the driver (approx. $8.50 NZD).

  • Ride shares that operate in Christchurch are Ola and Uber. Exit the arrivals terminal and then walk under the multi-level car park. Follow the signs that say ‘ride-share collection point’. 


Arriving at Auckland International Airport?

  • The Domestic Terminal is a short 10-minute walk from the International Terminal or you can make use of the free shuttle
  • The two main domestic airlines from Auckland to Christchurch are Jetstar and Air New Zealand. Both have self-service stations (operating in various languages) if you need to re-check your bags, or check in for your domestic flight to Christchurch.


For more information

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