Provisioning in the Pacific











The allure of adventure, the remote pristine islands, the world-renowned diving and an ocean more bountiful than the Tsukiji Fish Market has always drawn travellers from far and wide to the South Pacific. But how does one experience all of these things without their fresh berries in the morning, caviar Hors d'Oeuvres in the evening and preferred reading material throughout the day? Well one simply does not! That’s why we’ve put together everything you need to know regarding provisioning for yourselves and your guests when you’re travelling through the South Pacific.

It may be popular perception among yacht captains that it is more difficult to source premium, seasonal produce in the more remote areas of the South Pacific. Those who have cruised through these waters before tend to be a lot more positive about it, provided they went through the right channels. But if you haven’t sailed the South Pacific before you may be more inclined to put it in the too hard basket due to the obvious geographical obstacles (the extremely large masses of water between islands). For this reason it is our intention to give you as much objective information as possible so that you can make your own mind up.

I would like to begin with a simple statement that we can almost guarantee will make everything run smoothly 99.9% of the time and would just about negate the need for you to read the rest of this article and that statement is: Plan well in advance!

Funnily enough however, this fickle industry that we all know and love, rarely allows us that simple luxury and hearing the words “plan well in advance” when you’ve just been told that the guest that was allergic to strawberries is now not allergic to strawberries and you need 15 kilos of fresh juicy strawberries by yesterday, probably sounds more like a bullet to the head. So, if you have the slightest inkling that you might take a yacht to the Pacific at some point in your life, I encourage you to read on.

Where to Order Supplies From

New Zealand tends to be the main supplier of fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and other items to the islands due not only to the countries geographical advantage and regular flights but also because of the relationships that have been developed over many years between New Zealand and these countries. New Zealand has one of the best bio-security systems in the world being very conscientious about agriculture and the environment and the preservation of it. New Zealand has introduced many facets of these systems to help the smaller, less developed island nations prevent many agricultural virus’ such as foot and mouth disease etc. New Zealand is considered by many to be the hub for many South Pacific nations and beginning to move in to Asia. Historically Australia has supplied Asia, PNG and the Solomon’s but of late their rules have become more rigid along with a fruit fly problem, and New Zealand has had more of an influence over this market too. 

What are the hurdles and possible complications?

As with anything there are always hurdles and possible complications to overcome. Thankfully our team and our suppliers are well versed in all of these and after many years of practice and a lot of negotiations with authorities from across the Pacific, most of these have been smoothed out to a minimum. Each country has it’s own set of rules and regulations some logical, some not so logical, some rigid, some very easy. Each country also has it’s own set of rules for each product for example, Singapore and Rarotonga require very little in the way of import permits and paperwork whereas Tonga only requires import permits for fruit and Vegetables but not for Fish and dairy. There are also different rules depending on where the produce is coming from, if it is coming from New Zealand it is generally more straight forward than say if it was coming from Botswana! This is why it is so important to go through professional and experienced channels who are well versed in all of the rules and regulations when provisioning. We all might understand the specific needs of superyachts but the officials often do not which is why our on-going relationships with the authorities of varying countries are so important.

The Process: 

1. Order received by us, preferably 1-2 weeks in advance. (ammendments can follow)
2. We assess your order, this involves us checking the folowing  among other things- whether any of these products can be sourced locally and to an appropriate standard, confirm all rules and regulations regarding each product relevant to that country e.g Avocado simply cannot be sent to Vanuatu, is it possible to get everything in the order or are we going to have to suggest substitutes ie for many fruits we offer an exceptional freeze dried product. Determine all of the products that are going to need permits, paperwork and have any special requirementsand get these underway eg some products might have to be fumigated.
3. All rules and regulations are adhered to, products are packed accordingly, fumigated if necessary , inspected and certified!
4. Order is sent to country in cargo stores on local airlines. Note: more often in recent years, cargo stores on planes are being bumped to sell more seats. Very occasionally if passenger luggage is over the limit our cargo orders can be bumped. This is an on-going battle and another reason to get large orders in early to allow for possible delays. We are in talks with airlines trying to remedy this.
5. Order lands in country, is received by country officials and is cleared by authorities. Order delivered to boat by local agent.
6.Unpack and enjoy! 

Tips and Tricks (other than get your order in early)!

  • As a general rule of thumb the officials of almost every country are most concerned about one, pests and dirt and two, labeling of the product. So work on getting these right and you’re halfway there. For example, you’re going to have much better luck getting a bag of washed potatoes in to a country than a bag of unwashed potatoes.
  • When you are bringing product in to a country, an affidavit and receipts for the products are always helpful. It’s all about professionalism and organization with the officials.
  • Exaggerate your order! This is important, as it can, not only help you if there are any shortcomings but it can save you money. You can always take items out of the order but to add items once the order has been presented to government officials it is treated as a new order and another import permit must be issued costing $175 each time. 
  • Have a good shore support team both where you are and where you are receiving the goods from, don’t try to deal with the paperwork and government officials on your own, you won’t get far.
  • When placing your order photo’s or a link to where we can view the product online is helpful in case either we or the authorities are unfamiliar with the product. This should only really need to be done for products that may be confused such as kitchenware products or specific international items.
  • If there are very specific requests that urgently need to be on board when guests arrive and you are simply unable to source them in time, sometimes where possible it can be a good idea to bring supplies over on guest planes. If the guests are okay with that it can save money and a lot of stress.

Common Necessary Certificates:

Health Certificate – generally needed for plant matter and meats to certify that they have come from a certified export plant.

Fumigation certificate – certifies fumigation. E.g. Broccoli and other brassicaceae need to be fumigated.

Phytosanitary Certificate – for fruit and vegetables to say goods have been inspected in line with the import permit.

The good news is that you don’t really any of the above because we are here! It’s always good to know what’s going on behind the scenes though. If you have an understanding of the processes taking place to receive your provisions then you will

General Availability Info for Common Stops:

French Polynesia – Their main supplier is France, they have a good product range locally. Very rarely we need to ship from NZ.

Fiji – Similar to French Polynesia except main supplier is NZ, they have a pretty good range of local provisions, not too difficult if you do need to get something sent up from NZ.

Tonga – although plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are grown here and sold in the markets their product lines can sometimes not be consistent, this can be fine for crew but you may need more consistency when guests arriving. There are plenty of flights a week to get provisions up from NZ.

Vanuatu – Similar situation as with Tonga. 

New Caledonia – Similar situation as with French Polynesia due to the area being a special collectivity of France.

Solomon Islands – Similar situation to Tonga, we are supplying to the Solomon’s from New Zealand more and more lately and doing so with few problems.

Papua New Guinea – As with the Solomon’s.