You need to learn quite a few things when you start planning an adventure like this. It is not something thrown together in a hurry. Here are some of the logistics issues I encountered.
Travelling with Gear
One of the early things I looked into was the issues of passing through customs with a large amount of gear, and also being able to re-enter Australia with the gear I left with without incurring any GST/Tax costs. Several peopole had told me that it wasnt an issue and that they were not challenged when they passed through the borders, however when you ring Customs in Australia and New Zealand, they both take a more formal line and advise that you would be liable at the discretion of the officer at the gate. In the end, despite trying several avenues, I have gone down the ATA Carnet route. This will act as a passport for the equipment and ensure that despite passing through New Zealand customs twice and bringing the gear home into Australia that I dont get charged GST.
Now Carnet’s themselves arent cheap to obtain – but the cost is substantially less than the GST I could have been liable for. If you are travelling with large amounts of hear from VK, you can obtain a Carnet through one of your Australian Chamber’s of Commerce for about $350-400 – plus a bond to be held until the gear is returned.
In South Australia head to the Business SA Website for more details.
Transporting Equipment – Excess Luggage
One of the early reasons I chose Niue as a destination for this expedition was that access by commercial airline was possible. Air New Zealand fly there at least once a week (twice a week at certain times of the year) using large aircraft (Airbus A320s). I thought – sure – take 3 bags for personal items and 3 bags with the station equipment in them and I will be set – I can buy additional luggage before the flight. Reality however was a little different. There were restrictions on purchasing additional luggage on the Niue flight (presumably due to the short runways and long haul over the Pacific). In the end, I was able to take 6x 23kg bags (enough for me, the family and the radio station) but it came at a cost of flying effectively premium economy, substantially raising the price of the trip. So, the lesson here, dont assume and read the fine print about luggage restrictions on given air routes – not all routes are equal!
Amateur Radio Licensing in Niue
This was relatively easy. Licensing is through Niue Telecom (I can furnish an email address on request). Callsigns currently are being allocated only from the E6Ax prefix series. Give your self time with this as at times the replies are not fast. All I had to supply was Passport details and a copy of my Australian Amateur Radio license and they came back and assigned me E6AG. I will collect the license from Alofi at the Niue Telecom Office when I arrive.
Finding accommodation providers willing to host an amateur radio station is always a challenge. In my case I have been very fortunate with Kaliki Lodge on the island, who have been very helpful and accommodating. A couple of other providers also indicate their willingness to support amateur radio endeavors from their locations. From a distance it looks like I have made a very good choice with Kaliki Lodge. I will post more of my findings when I return to Australia!