Fake smartphones, cosmetics and shoes were some of the more than 43,000 counterfeit items that were stopped at New Zealand's border last year.

Customs intercepted more than 400 lots of fake goods, including branded sports clothes and caps, clothing, smartphones and accessories, footwear, and toys from children's films.

Customs Manager Jonathan Morten said clothes and clothing accessories were the most common items - with more than 230 interceptions of almost 14,000 sports-branded hats, vests, t-shirts, and themed clothes.

Fake smartphones, phone accessories, branded headphones and speakers and other electronic items were the second most common with more than 70 interceptions of about 7200 electronic products last year.

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Footwear was also popular, with more than 2200 pairs being intercepted.

Close to 800 pieces of furniture and household items, and almost 500 cosmetics and perfumes, 4,500 flags, 100 sporting helmets and 98 car air fresheners also made the hit list.

Mr Morten said one shipment intercepted at the end of 2014 had more than 14,000 goods, ranging from counterfeit children's watches, hats and walkie-talkies to dolls and toys. All of the items were forfeited by the importer.

He said The forged items were often sold at markets, discount shops and online.

"Customs' role is to intercept any suspected counterfeit goods and report it to the rights holder for action. We do this for about 300 intellectual property rights holders so far, and we would encourage others to lodge protection notices with Customs," Mr Morten said.

"Counterfeiters rapidly churn out fakes to keep up with market trends and it's getting harder to tell them from the real deal. It's recommended that online buyers use trusted and licensed websites to avoid being ripped off.

"It's important for buyers to be aware that the fakes will always be of much poorer quality and in many instances, especially for electronic equipment, may not meet safety standards and be dangerous to use," he said.

It is an offence under the Trade Marks Act to counterfeit a registered trade mark or import or sell goods with a falsely applied registered trade mark.

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Maximum penalties are five years' imprisonment or a $150,000 fine.