Hitchhiker pests

Vessels arriving to New Zealand should be free of pests, insects and animals that may become a nuisance, cause harm in New Zealand, or carry disease.


Keep your vessel pest-free

Hitchhiker insects and animals may happen to board a vessel while it's overseas – sometimes carried on cargo, blown on board in small numbers undetected, or arriving in swarms. If they then find their way to New Zealand they could affect human health or seriously harm New Zealand's economy and unique environment.

Common hitchhiking pests that have been found on ships and yachts on arrival include:

  • ants and termites
  • some types of beetles that gather together
  • moths that are attracted to ships' lights to lay their eggs on structures
  • mosquitoes
  • wasps and bees.

Fact sheets about hitchhiking pests are available:

Two pests of major concern

Asian gypsy moth and brown marmorated stink bugs are serious pests and special management procedures are in place to prevent their spread to New Zealand.

Asian gypsy moth

Up until recently only vessels that called into Far East Russian ports during the risk period were classified as high risk. From the moth's flight season of 2016 until 31 January 2018, the requirements for high-risk vessels may apply to a vessel that called to any of the areas in an extended list of risk areas.

Until 31 January 2018, an arriving vessel may be considered a high risk for Asian gypsy moth (AGM) if in the previous 12 months it has visited any of the risk areas during the specified risk periods in Table 1 (sourced from the NAPPO AGM regulations).

Table 1. Proposed Risk Areas and Specified Risk Periods 2017
(Vessels have risk of AGM if, in the last 12 months, visited during corresponding risk period)
Country Risk Area Specified Risk Period
Russian Far East South of 60o North and west of 147o longitude (excluding those ports on the Kamchatka Peninsula) July 1 to September 30
China North of latitude of 31o 15' N June 1 to September 30
Republic of Korea In all areas June 1 to September 30
Japan – Northern In prefectures of Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima July 1 to September 30
Japan Western In prefectures of Akita, Yamagata, Niigata, Toyama, Ishikawa June 25 to September 15
Japan - Eastern In prefectures of Fukui, Ibaraki, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie June 20 to August 20
Japan - Southern In prefectures of Wakayama, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Tokushima, Ehime, Kochi, Fukuoka, Oita, Saga, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Kumamoto, Kagoshima June 1 to August 10
Japan - Far Southern In prefecture of Okinawa May 25 to June 30

Certificates of freedom

If the vessel is high risk and does not have a certificate of freedom from a recognised inspection body, a high-level inspection may be required at a specific port as determined by MPI or potentially 4 nautical miles offshore at an agreed location if the risk is very high.

Certificates of freedom will avoid undue delays on your arrival in New Zealand. If you wish to obtain certification from any of the listed countries the approved inspection bodies are listed in the Notice to Shipping: New Zealand's Measures for Asian Gypsy Moth on Vessels (for 2017 flight season).

New AGM requirements starting 1 February 2018

MPI issued the Craft risk management standard (CRMS) for vessels and its guidance document on 20 July 2017. The new standard comes into force on 1 February 2018.

Download the CRMS for vessels [PDF, 577 KB]

Download the CRMS guidance document [PDF, 505 KB]

The standard includes a new requirement for vessels that have been to the risk areas in Table 1 during the risk period or flight season in the 12 months before entering New Zealand waters.

From 1 February 2018:

  • these vessels will require a certificate of freedom from a recognised inspection body
  • if they don't have a certificate of freedom, the vessel will be inspected for Asian gypsy moths.

Find a recognised inspection body

Brown marmorated stink bugs

This insect is a serious pest of crops and nuisance to people. It has been found arriving at the New Zealand border on cargo and vessels from the United States. Crews should look out for the bug and report any sightings.

New and used cars, trucks, machinery, boats and parts imported from the United States must be treated by one of 3 methods before being shipped to New Zealand.

Find out more

Who to contact

  • If you have questions about the information on this page, email vessels@mpi.govt.nz
  • To report an exotic pest or disease call 0880 80 99 66.
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