Vehicle transport NZ

What you might not know about vehicle transport in New Zealand


Many people purchasing a car don’t think too much about how the vehicle got to New Zealand. Car manufacturing in New Zealand ended in 1997 and, since then, the only way to make more vehicles available to New Zealand buyers is to purchase them from overseas and transport them here.

For the end customer, buying a new vehicle can be as easy as going to their local car yard and buying one ready to drive away. However, there’s quite a bit involved to get them to that local car yard, including purchasing the vehicles, transporting them across the ocean, and making sure they’re safe and ready for sale in New Zealand.

What makes vehicle transport in New Zealand unique?

One of the main considerations for vehicle transport to New Zealand is an obvious one – our location. We’re pretty far removed from some of our most common export partners, like Europe and Japan. So, it’s not as simple as loading up several cars onto a truck and driving them across country borders. This means that all cars arriving into New Zealand must come by ship, which can take a bit of time.

As well as our remote location, another consideration is our environmental standards. Cars that are imported into the country must undergo an MPI inspection and cleaning to ensure it’s not bringing in any unwanted animals, seeds, or other material that could harm our ecosystem.

Finally, vehicles being transported into New Zealand must meet our safety and emissions standards. In Europe, for example, you can generally drive a car across borders with no problems.

However, here in New Zealand we need to make sure that cars that come into the country are safe to drive on our roads and meet our emissions standards. These standards differ depending on what type of vehicle is being imported and when it was manufactured. This may change as legislation is updated.

How does a car become sale-ready in New Zealand?

To satisfy New Zealand compliance requirements, there are a number of checks the vehicle will undergo once it arrives in the country. These are often done by a compliance centre, which specialises in ensuring cars meet New Zealand regulations. This involves some disassembly and reassembly of the car to ensure it meets entry certification requirements.

An NZTA agent will inspect the car’s structure for rust, mechanical discrepancies, structural damage, any previous repairs, or other problems that could make the car unsafe to drive. And, if the car has been imported from Japan, it will need to have a new 17-digit ISO VIN number fixed to the vehicle.

Who looks after all this?

While it is possible to manage the process of transporting a vehicle to New Zealand yourself, it’s much easier if you partner with a company that specialises in vehicle transport, such as AUTOHUB.

We can organise pick-up, loading, checks and compliance requirements for you – often at a better price than you can get yourself. That’s because we have negotiated volume pricing with our suppliers. We can also look after all the compliance checks required before the car can be released to you.

This means that – if you’re a vehicle business – once the car arrives at your destination, its ready to be sold. If you’re a car collector or enthusiast, you can just hop in and drive it right away!