We are going to travel around New Zealand for 9 months next year with our 3 kids. The plan is to tour mostly by caravan or RV. The most economical choice would be to purchase a caravan when we get there and sell it when we are done.

However getting one that would be sufficient size for our family looks to cost between 60k and 75k NZD.

We are now looking into purchasing a caravan ( camping trailer ) in the US and shipping it to New Zealand and then sell it for a small profit when we are done.

Can someone on a tourist visa import goods into a country and sell them? What about a vehicle?


There are restrictions on importing left hand drive vehicles into New Zealand. It is unlikely that you would be able to purchase a new caravan overseas and successfully import it. From Importing a left-hand drive vehicle (Factsheet 12):

Are there restrictions on LHD vehicles?

Yes. Most left-hand drive vehicles have to be converted to right-hand drive (RHD) before they can be driven on New Zealand roads.

For modern vehicles, this is either very expensive or impractical – especially if the vehicle has a modern frontal impact protection system (eg airbags and crumple zones).

The only vehicles that can be registered as LHD and driven on New Zealand roads are those that belong to one of the specific categories of LHD that are permitted by law.

Before going to the expense of importing a LHD vehicle, you should check very carefully that your vehicle is either belongs to one of the permitted categories or is capable of being converted to RHD. Otherwise, you may find it impossible to use the vehicle on New Zealand roads.

Additionally, New Zealand Customs has an information page on Motor vehicles, boats & aircraft. There are concessions on taxes for residents importing certain vehicles, which would imply that non-residents may still be permitted to import such vehicles but are not eligible for the concessions. Customs Fact Sheet 29, Advice on Private Motor Vehicle Imports indicates that motorhomes attract both 15% GST plus an additional 10% duty.

If you intend to take your vehicle with you when you leave, Customs states:

Temporary entry – tourist motor vehicles

​If you are a tourist you may import a motor vehicle into New Zealand without payment of Customs charges, provided your intention is to take the vehicle out of New Zealand at the conclusion of your visit.

However, even in this case you would still be required to properly register the vehicle with NZTA for use on New Zealand roads.

You would almost certainly be better off buying a (used?) caravan in New Zealand and selling it when you are done. This will likely be considerably less expensive and time-consuming than attempting to import a vehicle. (Even if you were to successfully import a vehicle, you may not be able to use it for weeks or months as it passes through customs, biosecurity, licensing paperwork, and so on.)

  • Thanks for the info on importing a vehicle. I would agree importing an RV is probably too much hassle. A Caravan on the other hand is strangely very expensive in New Zealand. 24k in USA is 65K in New Zealand. So plenty of room to make this an affordable option.
    – digidigo
    May 4 '14 at 21:37
  • 2
    You may find that the price of many goods, from paper clips to caravans, is "strangely very expensive" in NZ. :) Also, note that Kiwis generally don't use the terms "RV" or "motorhome", but the word "caravan" applies to all kinds of mobile living quarters, whether trailer or self-propelled. May 4 '14 at 21:39
  • Okay great. Good to know that it is a confused term. In some of my dealing they have even started just saying "Van". Trademe separates Caravan and Motorhome.
    – digidigo
    May 4 '14 at 21:43
  • A "van" could be something even smaller. I'd rely on photos so that you're getting what you expect. May 4 '14 at 21:46
  • Thanks, any info on a tourist being able to import goods? The shipping people say yes, but I have heard nightmares.
    – digidigo
    May 4 '14 at 21:55

I agree with the above, LHD vehicle would probably have some issues. I was able to take my caravan from Aus over to NZ pretty easily. For anyone else who stumbles onto this post I found this article pretty helpful before making the decision to ship the caravan overseas - http://www.willship.com.au/prepare-shipping-caravan-abroad/

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! We prefer to avoid link-based answers, as they tend to expire over time. Could you write a summary of the procedure for importing an Australian vehicle to NZ?
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 30 '17 at 8:02

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