Two motorcycles on their way from Sydney to Christchurch – airfreight

February 26, 2014 in Australia, Motorcycles & Technics, New Zealand, Paperwork, On the road

Heike's 650 strapped down - almost ready!From time to time, when the land ends and there is only water in front of us, we have to find an alternative mode of transport – the bikes (and we) have to continue either by plane or by boat. This was of cause also the case when we wanted to go to New Zealand. In the following blog post we want to give you all the relevant information, addresses, prices, paperwork, etc., if you’re planning to do the same.

We chose to send the bikes by airfreight from Sydney to Christchurch, because it has some advantages: it didn’t cost us much more than sea freight, it was easier to organize, the paperwork seemed to be less, the fees at the airport are usually much lower than at the harbour, and your don’t have to wait long for the bikes to arrive at the destination.

We contacted several airlines, but in the end they all told us that we would have to go through a shipping agency – if they answered at all. Marko ( suggested Matzen Cargo (addresses, GPS coordinates, prices, etc. can be found further down). They answered immediately to our request, made the best offer, and were really helpful. We can definitely recommend them!

For the airfreight, we had to disconnect the batteries, and the tanks had to be washed with white alcohol (whatever that is). The work has to be done by a workshop, and they have to issue a certificate that all the work has been done.

We contacted BMW Procycles in Sydney, and went to the workshop in St. Peter. We also got BMW crates from them (because the bikes have to be crated). They did everything we asked for, and we got the crates in time, but they were very careless – after we got the bikes back we found that some bolts were loose, they had lost rubber seals and washers, the chain wasn’t adjusted after the tyre change, the rear brake was not activated (!), etc. So, we cannot really recommend them – the quality of the work was quite bad.

The carnets had to be stamped at the customs office at the airport, which we did on the same day. Make sure that you have a written document (a draft of the airway bill or a booking confirmation from Matzen Cargo) that confirms that you are going to export the bike.

The motorcycles have to be spotless for the biosecurity inspection in New Zealand (just like in Australia). All the dust and the dirt have to be removed – they have to be as clean as new. It took us five days to clean both bikes, all the luggage, tools, clothes and camping gear. Don’t forget the tent, the tent pegs, and the shoes. We stayed at the Sydney Hills Holiday Park, where we could clean the bikes. The campground is owned by Steve, who is also the owner of, and he allowed us to use his workshop and the pressure washer. Thank you very much, Steve! And many thanks also to Mark, who shared his cabin with us for a whole week.

Cleaning for biosecurity inspection in NZ  Filippo got the toothbrush out to reach all corners.

On the day where we had to bring the bikes to the BMW workshop, and pack them into the crates, it was raining very heavily. Since we didn’t want the bikes to get dirty again, we rented a van (Mercedes Sprinter) from Budget. We first drove the bikes to BMW early in the morning, and then while they were prepared for airfreight, we transported the crates to the warehouse. Later we also brought the bikes there. But BMW Procycles could have transferred them to the warehouse as well – and of course not for free…

Transport to the warehouse

To pack the bikes into the crates, we had to take the front wheel out, and remove the wind shield. Otherwise they wouldn’t fit. And we could also pack all our panniers and luggage into the crates, and strap everything down there. Important: the tyre pressure has to be reduced to avoid damage during the flight. The guys from Matzen Cargo were extremely friendly and very helpful – really great!!

the 1150 without the front wheel strapped down  The 650 and all the luggage strapped down- ready to close the crate  All packed - ready to go!

We moved into a cheap hostel in the city centre for the next two nights, and went sightseeing. Two days after we had packed the crates we flew to Christchurch, on the same day as our bikes (with Air New Zealand).

We arrived in Christchurch just after midnight. Don’t forget that you need a return ticket for your visa. And the biosecurity check at the airport was also very strict.

For the rest of the night we camped on the floor in the arrival hall, and the next morning at 8 o’clock, we went directly to the customs office, which is just opposite the terminal. They stamped the carnets, and we received a document that stated that customs had cleared the bikes. We had to hand that document over to Air New Zealand cargo later to get our bikes out.

The customs officer also sent the biosecurity officer to us. We had to pay a small fee, and we were informed that the biosecurity inspector would be waiting for us at the Air New Zealand cargo office in 15 minutes!

We hadn’t expected that we would get an appointment that fast. So we found ourselves jogging to the Air New Zealand cargo building, which is luckily only a few hundred metres away. We had to pay another small handling fee there, and were just in time for the biosecurity inspector to arrive.

He turned out to be really nice. The inspection was careful, but not as strict as in Darwin. He mainly checked the bikes, but also the luggage. After 15 minutes everything was cleared, and we could start to put the bikes back together, and to reconnect the batteries.

Putting the bikes back together in Christchurch

Of course, our tanks were still empty and we had to find fuel somewhere. Unfortunately, there is no petrol station at the airport. But the friendly lady from Air New Zealand drove us to a petrol station, where we could borrow a jerry can (20 NZD deposit).

The last step was the technical inspection (Warranty of Fitness, WoF), and the registration of the bikes in New Zealand (ACC levy). We went to VINZ near the airport, where we needed our carnets and passports, and we had to fill out the form MR2C (which you can get there or download it in advance). We went without our luggage to avoid any potential problems. The inspectation was very strict (tyres, brakes, light, bearings, etc.). We got two stickers there, ACC and WoF, which have to be attached to the rear of the bike.

Overall it was the easiest shipping/freighting of our whole trip – and we found it relatively cheap. We listed all the fees and prices further below.


An overview of all the steps that are necessary if you want to freight your bike from Sydney to Christchurch, incl. addresses and GPS coordinates:

  1. Get into contact with Matzen Cargo (GPS S 33 57.627, E 151 13.354). Contact: Christian, Tel. + 61-2-93164482, email:, 54 Raymond Ave, Matraville NSW 2036
  2. Contact BMW Procycles (GPS S 33 54.781, E 151 10.749) in Sydney. It is easiest if you go there personally, because they don’t answer emails. They have to prepare the bikes for airfreight, i.e. clean the tanks, disconnect the battery, and issue a certificate that everything necessary has been done. We went to the workshop in St. Peter (140 Princess Highway, St. Peter NSW 2044, +61-2-95648000), because it is closer to Matzen Cargo.
  3. Carnets have to be stamped at the customs building opposite the international terminal at the airport (GPS S 33 56.057, E 151 09.840). You need a print-out of the Airway Bill or another document that confirms that the bikes will leave the country.
  4. Clean everything… thoroughly!
  5. Transfer the bikes to Procycles, and after they have been prepared together with the crates to the warehouse at Matzen Cargo. We rented a big van from Budget. But Procycles can also transfer them.
  6. We received the Air Waybill by email, and paid cash in Sydney, but Matzen accepts credit cards or bank transfer as well.
  7. After arrival in Christchurch, go directly to customs opposite the airport terminal (the bikes should have arrived as well). They stamp the carnets and give you a piece of paper for Air New Zealand that states that customs released the bikes (GPS: S 43 29.428, E 172 32.638; opposite the terminal)
  8. At the customs office you also register for the biosecurity inspection. A fee has to be paid. We immediately got an appointment – only 15 minutes later.
  9. Next station is the Air New Zealand Cargo building, only a few hundred metres around the corner (GPS S 43 29.532, E 172 32.828). Hand over the document from customs, pay the handling fee (credit card), and wait for the inspector.
  10. When the bikes are ready to go and everything works, go to VINZ for the Warranty of Fitness inspection and the registration (ACC levy). You need the form MR2C there, your carnet, passport, a local address (campground), and money (GPS S 43 29.146, E 172 33.064).





  • Airfreight in BMW crates: 750 AUD per bike
  • Preparation of the bikes at Procycles: 100 AUD per bike
  • Crates: 54 AUD each.
  • Transporter (Mercedes Sprinter) for 24h to transfer the cleaned bikes and the crates: 92 AUD plus Diesel
  • Biosecurity Inspection in Christchurch: 51 NZD for both(!) bikes
  • Handling fees at Air New Zealand in Christchurch: 57 NZD per bike
  • WoF and ACC levy in NZ: 85 NZD per bike


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