Key Points

Moving Companies

This was the most uncertain aspect for us because we had never moved any of our stuff overseas before. So, starting from scratch, we employed our trusty friend Google for a bit of help.

We really wanted to start with a rough idea of how much it was going to cost so that we could decide whether to take all our bits and pieces with us, or to take the bare minimum and just spend an afternoon at IKEA (in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide) buying all the stuff we left behind, and probably save money by doing so.

Unless you have bucket loads of cash, shipping the majority of your stuff by air isn't going to be an option. Besides, container ships don't take that long to get from New Zealand to Australia (our stuff took just over 3 weeks in the end).

With that decision made, the next thing to think about is whether you intend to pack your belongings yourself or have professional movers do it all. Note that if you intend to pack your belongings yourself, you might find it a lot harder, or impossible, to get a reasonable insurance premium for your valuable items. This was what we found at least.

To get an accurate quote to decide if it might be cost effective to pack things yourself, you need to give the moving companies a good idea of the volume and types of things you are going to be moving.

Based on the inventory below, we ended up paying NZ$1,600 (insurance was an additional $530)* for our shipper to come to our home and pack everything for us, ship it to Melbourne, clear it through Australian Customs, and deliver it to our new home and unpack everything.

Here's the inventory of items we submitted to different international moving companies for a quote:

Kitchen

  • Casserole dish
  • Grill pan
  • Mini muffin tin
  • 2 x pizza trays
  • Marble rolling pin
  • Electric bread knife
  • Chef’s knife - loose
  • Food processor
  • Cocktail shaker
  • 2 x medium blue ceramic mixing bowls
  • Large ceramic mixing bowl
  • 2 x pyrex jugs
  • 4 x small serving plates
  • Breadmaker
  • Pasta maker
  • Sandwich grill
  • Various cookbooks (approx 12)

Lounge

  • Hatbox
  • Mini stereo
  • Bowling pin
  • DVD player
  • Some books and DVDs - approx 2/3 standard boxes.

Office

  • Portable phone
  • Fax machine
  • Student desk (disassembles)
  • Component stereo including 1 CD player, 1 amplifier and 2 desk speakers
  • Small laser printer
  • In/out file tray
  • 2 drawer filing cabinet
  • 2 packing boxes of misc stuff
  • 2 x office chairs

Bedroom

  • Queen slat bed (disassembled) with queen mattress
  • Various clothing and shoes - standard wardrobe
  • Jewellery
  • Approx 1 box misc stuff

Bathroom

  • Misc products and cosmetics
  • Hairdryer
  • Straightening iron
  • Curling tongs

So you can see we didn't take heaps of stuff, but it still cost us a reasonable amount of money to take our belongings with us - although less than to replace it, for sure.

You'll note that we didn't take anything very big. The single biggest item was the queen mattress, as we sold our larger appliances, lounge suite etc.

If you are planning on selling your stuff too and replacing it when you get to Australia, expect to be able to replace the types of things you can get at IKEA for less than what you might have paid for them in New Zealand if a) you don't mind shopping at IKEA - it's not for everyone, and b) you didn't get a bargain on your original stuff in the first place.

NZ Vanlines Interview

It’s now been 10 years since we moved to Australia, so we recently caught up with Matthew at NZ Vanlines to find out more about shipping household goods from NZ to Australia.

What are the advantages of shipping household belongings rather than buying new in Australia?

The biggest and most obvious advantage is the comfort in being surrounded by your own possessions in unfamiliar settings. This is a significant factor in the settling in process and can be the difference between being happy or unhappy in your new environment. This applies to all family members and is critical to a successful transition.

How does a typical NZ Van Lines service work, from start to finish, for shipping goods to Australia?

Our service and personal communication starts from the initial contact, through to final delivery to the customer's new home in Australia. Our Move Consultant will visit the customer to assess the volume of all items to be moved, and during that visit will discuss the process in detail, answering any questions and providing the reassurances needed at this pivotal moment in their lives. A quotation is then submitted for the move, covering all services required, including insurance cover; the quotation is fully comprehensive, ensuring there are no "hidden extras" ambushing the customer during transit.

On acceptance of our quotation, dates are agreed for packing and uplift, along with provision of shipping times and delivery dates in Australia. We also ask our customers to complete Australian Customs documents to enable our partners to initiate the clearance process without delay. They will also liaise with the customer to keep them informed of progress and to confirm delivery date. Our partners will unwrap and place all furniture items where directed, reassemble beds and unpack cartons of crockery, kitchenware etc. onto flat surfaces, such as tables and bench tops. All unwanted packing materials will be taken away at the end of delivery day. Finally, we contact the customer to get their feedback on our overall services and to establish if there are any outstanding issues which need to be addressed.

What is the likelihood of goods getting damaged/lost in transit?

In any international move there is always an inherent risk of damage, though not so much with missing items. When you think about it, your furniture and fragile items, including of course your TV, are designed to stay in one place in the house, so risk of damage during relocation obviously increases. (Just think of some of the huge seas we get in the Tasman ocean and you'll realise what we have to protect!). That being said, our packers are highly trained and we supply them with the best resources and materials to ensure optimum protection.

How long does it take for a shipment from NZ to arrive in Australia?

Actual shipping time is very quick, however due to Australian Government systems requirements, total transit time from date of shipment to delivery to client's residence in Australia is about two weeks to east coast cities and three to four weeks to Adelaide and west coast (Perth and surrounding areas).

Are there any items you can’t ship from NZ to Australia? (A lot of people ask us what the situation is with tools or Chefs’ knives, for example).

The list of restricted or prohibited items is pretty long and incorporates both Customs and Quarantine rules (though chefs' knives are not an issue). Our best advice is to refer to the relevant Australian Government contacts - information@customs.com.au and agriculture@gov.au.

There are also rules pertaining to import of motor vehicles and permission is needed from Canberra before shipment can be effected. Alcohol can be imported, but duty and GST will be charged on even a small quantity - better to have a party before leaving! We are always happy to research and respond to any specific queries from our customers.

What are common issues people can face with their shipment?

Probably the most common issue people comment on relates to the high costs for Customs and Quarantine inspections and fumigation, which are much higher than in New Zealand. For that reason it's better not to ship the likes of cane or rattan furniture, as they will definitely be fumigated.

When I was researching NZ Van Lines online, I found mixed reviews for your company. What would you say to our visitors who might have concerns about some of these comments?

We are extremely concerned and embarrassed by the negative reviews which appear among the good ones on such websites as "NoCowboys", and we are working very hard to eliminate the need for them. It is acknowledged that we haven't got it right every time. Moving overseas is a very stressful time in people's lives and their emotions and expectations are very high and because of this some of the reviews may be overly subjective (and indeed may not even be genuine - it's not unknown for competitors to post reviews, as they can do it under cover of complete anonymity).

That being said, if issues are brought to our attention we will do everything we can to mitigate the circumstances - and yet in some instances people will still resort to the internet to vilify us - despite having had the issues resolved and in some instances been given monetary compensation (which was the case with one of the reviewers we identified). We exhort clients with issues to immediately raise them with our senior management, as in some instances they can be resolved before escalation.

You may also be interested to read an interview conducted with our chairman, Errol Gardiner, which not only expresses the personal views of our chairman, but exemplifies the beliefs and culture of our company.

Why would someone choose NZ Van Lines over other moving companies to get their goods shipped to Australia?

New Zealand Van Lines is the largest privately owned household removal company in New Zealand. Our size, and the volume of people's possessions we ship to Australia means we have access to the most competitive packaging prices and freight rates. And being privately owned, customers receive that extra level of personal service and care, not always provided by multi-national organisations.

It also means we have the ability to choose who we partner with in Australia - this is a significant benefit compared to the multi-nationals who are obliged to work within their own network regardless of service quality. Our partners want our continued business and they know they have to perform to warrant our ongoing support. New Zealand Van Lines was also the first FIDI accredited mover in New Zealand. Our exclusive partners in Australia, Wridgways, are also FIDI accredited which ensures you are receiving the same seamless quality standard throughout your move.

Finally, for comparison, what would NZ Van Lines quote in 2018 for the items we shipped to Melbourne in 2007?

Our price would be NZ$1,990.00 for a full door-to-door service via consolidation container.

If you’re interested in a quote from NZ Van Lines, please enter your details below and they will contact you to help you get started with your move to Australia.

Still have questions about shipping your stuff to Australia? Check out our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us and other readers.