Heads up on taking a kayak to Aussie


We have just sent two whitewater kayaks to Oz (via a re-location company) and they are currently held up in Oz quarrantine due to potential Didymo issues (along with everything else of ours).

No word yet on time or cost to have them released (will advise the outcome when we know), but a timely reminder to all that you may now encounter issues with taking your kayak to Australia. This may or may not occur if your boat comes with you as checked luggage.

Suggest the usual: Thoroughly clean the kayak with disinfectant, leave in the sun to dry for a couple of days, etc (as per DOC guidelines). For un-accompanied boats suggest a cleaning certificate of some sort, and / or notice stuck on boat to say it has been cleaned properly and not used on didymo infected waters (if you know for sure that is).

I've heard horror stories of Oz MAF charging 300$ to clean tramping boots and tents - on a per item basis...(probably deserved it if they were not cleaned, but indicates that it could cost a lot to have your kayak cleaned).

a.kiwi's picture

They gave u the opossum... lets give then dydimo Arghhhhhhhhhh!!!

leela0's picture

interesting times!
i didnt do my home work before taking my playboat across... walked straight into customs, explained that it hadn't been in any rivers for the last couple of months, only the sea. everything was dry and i was away laughing!
maybe it depends on who you get and what you expect? or maybe i just got lucky
either way im pretty happy!

cc's picture

We received our kayaks last Wednesday - 4 weeks after they were sent for treatment, 6 weeks after they were seized.

The company doing the gamma radiation treatment primarily treats medical equipment, and treating kayaks for didymo is usually a very low priority for them "and they are the last things to be treated".

Sounds like gamma radiation treatment is the only option now. It appears not to affect the boats (or at least melt them in an obvious way).

So, do not be in a hurry to have your boat in Oz and this probably applies to canoe polo and slalom boats - do your home work first.

gerry's picture

I went through all this a few weeks ago (it was in preparation for taking a kayak to Sydney for a few weeks.. I gave up in the end). After talking to them for ages at the airport and also calling the various phone numbers and reading the regulations, the conclusion was that for a non-porous item like a kayak, the Gamma irradiation was the only option. That's what they told me anyway.

The rules for highly porous items are a little less strict because they can be dried properly, so I think if you've got something like a wetsuit, shorts or gloves as long as you treat it and then leave it dry for a few days before you go you should be OK.

They told me that the treatment is absolutely 100% compulsory for any paddling gear coming from a country with Didymo (there were 26 countries on the list from memory). Even new unused kayaks going into Oz have to have a certificate from the manufacturer stating that they've never been tested in or exposed to any water. No certificate means compulsory radiation treatment even for a brand new boat.

I was told that the treatment would take 2-4 weeks and cost less than $100.. obviously that's not the case!

cc's picture

Last update:

1: The need to have kayaks decontaminated is a good thing and not to be avoided, and not what is being discussed here. What is being discussed is the difficulty involved in handling kayaks with the required decontamination methods here in OZ, the companies and facilities available, and obviously the time and COST involved.

Currently the Oz AQIS is having a hard time with horse flu related isses, so trying to avoid declaring and having your freshwater gear processed would not be a good idea...

2: The issue is this: Although there are several options to process / decontaminate your kayak when it arrives in Oz, none of them, except for Gamma radiation, are practical for an object 3metres long and 1 wide and with so many nooks, crannies, voids and crevices. If your paddle is detected with water sloshing around inside of it, and it can not be dis-assembled - then you may lose that piece of kit.

The companies that process the kayaks do not have devices or containers that can submerge (something the size of) a kayak and hold it underwater and keep it heated to 45 degrees for the required amount of time. Filling the kayak with hot water and nappy san - probably sufficient in NZ between islands - is not enough in Oz.

Secondly, as we all know a kayak full of water weights several hundred kilos, and can be difficult to manage when full of water in an ideal situation, by experienced paddlers, let alone handled safely by quarantine inspection perosnal that have issues with 30kg suitcases.

3: One of the options is to freeze a kayak to -18 degrees for 24+ hrs. Sounds easy enough, but according to AQIS only 2 freezing companies in all of Sydney (at least) are willing to treat for Didymo - they know it - and they charge like a wounded bull.

4: This still leaves 3 options:

A: Gamma radiation: Expensive ($425), but quick and easy. However it takes 2 men and a truck, pickup, delivery, processing, pickup, delivery, re-certification, and then you still have to pick up the boats your self. This was our option we chose.

B: Complete statutory declarations. Alas this will require you to provide proof that what you declare is honest and truthful and RISK free.

C: Before taking your kayak to Oz, try to get MAF to process it, seal it, certify it, hand it to you at the airport, pay your money (which might be less than in Oz, and then hope that AQIS will accept that....

5: All this palava applies to your spray deck, cag, booties, gloves, wetsuit, wet suit shorts, paddles, dry bags - anything that has touched freshwater in NZ.

6: To any Ozzy paddlers, this may apply to you guys trying to get your kit back into Oz from NZ or any other country in the world.

Lastly, don't be responsible for didymo arriving in Oz. Leave that to the wayward ducks, penguins and trout as they cross the Tasman via flying or swimming.

cc's picture

Update on the issue of taking NZ whitewater boats to Oz:

They are now enforcing this at the airports and other points of entry, so expect your kayak to be scrutinised heavily and taken for 'cleansing'.

If you are lucky and declare it and asert that it has been thoroughly cleaned and dis-infectantised it may go through, or even more lucky that a AQIS officer may just order it sprayed at the airport.

However the official line on cleaning kayaks (and any related equipment) used in !freshwater! gives several options:

a) Complete immersion for 30 minutes in water maintained at 45°C or higher, containing 2% dishwashing liquid or nappy cleaner (T10008); or
b) Complete immersion in water maintained above 45°C for 40 minutes once the core temperature of 45°C has been reached (T10007); or
c) Storage at -18°C for 24 hours (T10009); or
d) Gamma irradiation at 25 kGray (T9651); or
e) Hot air at 45°C maintained for 40 minutes after the core temperature of 45°C has been reached – note that it may take several hours to achieve core temperature (T10012).

Refer to link:

as well as this link:

See Condition 13 of the above link.

We chose option: d) Gamma irradiation at 25 kGray (T9651);

We have discussed this with AQIS, it is not AQIS that do the cleaning, but a contractor.

Gamma Irradiation was the CHEAPEST option at $425 (for 2 kayaks).

Good luck (or maybe it was just our bad luck).