The Ministry for Primary Industries has given the green light for 4500 dairy cows to be shipped to China.
The livestock carrier the Awassi Express will leave Napier Port tonight. The ministry expected it would take the ship 15 days to reach China.
The Awassi Express is owned by a Saudi businessman, Hamood Al-Khalaf, who has been involved in several international animal welfare debacles.
More than 5000 sheep died aboard another of his livestock ships in 2003 and in late 2014 hundreds of sheep died at his farm in the Saudi desert after the New Zealand government flew them there.