New Zealand Travel Bubble
Two countries who were quick to close their borders at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia and New Zealand eventually opened up to one another with a travel bubble arrangement. The arrangement allowed quarantine-free travel between the two countries, but did not last long amid virus outbreaks in Australia in 2021.
Australia has since re-opened its borders for quarantine-free travel for most international travellers, including New Zealanders. However, it is still not easy for most Australians to travel the other direction to New Zealand. The good news is there are changes on the horizon, with New Zealand set to be unlocked from mid-2022.
Both Australians and New Zealanders have long loved crossing the Tasman Sea to visit one another. In 2019, Australia was New Zealand’s largest international visitor market and New Zealand was Australia’s second-largest international visitor market. A strong bounce back in tourism between the two countries is expected again once the walls eventually come down.
When is the New Zealand Border Opening?
The New Zealand government has announced a five-step border reopening from February 2022 to October 2022. New Zealand has used hotel quarantine throughout the pandemic but is gradually moving to a home-quarantine or self-isolation model.
New Zealand Travel Restrictions
New Zealand has announced plans to open its border in five stages, starting with a form of an Australia and New Zealand travel bubble.
Step 1 (from February 28, 2022)
- Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents as well as other eligible travellers under current border settings can enter New Zealand from Australia and self-isolate for seven days.
Step 2 (from March 14, 2022)
- Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents, other eligible travellers under current border settings, skilled workers and travellers on a working holiday scheme can enter New Zealand from anywhere in the world and self-isolate for seven days.
Step 3 (from April 13, 2022)
- Fully vaccinated current temporary work, student visa holders and up to 5,000 international students can enter New Zealand and self-isolate for seven days.
Step 4 (by July 2022)
- Fully vaccinated travellers from Australia, other visa waiver country visitors, visitors from other countries who already hold a visitor visa and travellers arriving under the Accredited Employer Work Visa categories can enter New Zealand and self-isolate for seven days.
Step 5 (from October 2022)
- All visa categories will reopen, including visitor and student visas.
New Zealand Travel Rules
Those arriving in New Zealand under the new five-step plan must also meet a few other requirements. All travellers must provide a negative pre-departure test prior to boarding a flight to New Zealand, must meet vaccination requirements and must self-isolate as instructed. Arrivals to New Zealand must also take two rapid antigen tests (RATs) during their self-isolation period on day 0/1 and day 5/6 and declare their results.
New Zealand Travel Insurance
New Zealand does not require visitors to hold a travel insurance that includes Covid-19 coverage, like other countries including Singapore do. However, travel insurance is highly recommended for any trips across the Tasman Sea. Having a good travel insurance policy that includes Covid-19 coverage is vital for international travel in the current climate. Travel insurance can protect you with cover for medical expenses, evacuation and repatriation, as well as cancellation fees, lost deposits and damage to luggage and personal effects.
Make sure your trip to New Zealand is properly covered.
New Zealand to Australia Travel Rules
Australia’s international border was opened in February 2022 to fully-vaccinated international travellers, including from New Zealand. Inbound travellers to Australia must provide proof of vaccination and complete a Digital Passenger Declaration prior to boarding their flight.
Travellers must also show evidence of a negative Covid-19 test, which can either be a PCR test taken within three days of the flight’s scheduled departure or a RAT which must be taken within 24 hours of the flight’s scheduled departure time. RAT’s need to be observed by a medical professional, though, and you need to be supplied with a document that shows the traveller’s name, date of birth, test result, method of test conducted, brand and make of the test (for RAT tests), the date and time of specimen collection and documentation that the test was carried out by or under the supervision of an authorized person.
What happens if you test positive to Covid-19 while travelling in New Zealand?
Any travellers with positive pre-departure tests are not permitted to board their flight to Australia.
You must stay overseas and follow local rules until you return a negative test.
If it has been at least seven days since a first documented positive test or if you have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 30 days before your scheduled flight, you can return to Australia if you provide a certificate from a medical practitioner stating that you have recovered and are no longer considered to be infectious.
New Zealand Flights
Qantas and Air New Zealand are operating regular flights between Australia’s east coast and New Zealand under the New Zealand travel bubble. Jetstar’s has suspended its Trans-Tasman flights until at least June 2022, while Virgin Australia has also indefinitely suspended its flights to New Zealand. The flight time from Sydney to Auckland is roughly three hours, while Melbourne to Auckland is around 3.5 hours.
New Zealand Tourism
Known as ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ and recognised worldwide as the filming location of iconic movie series ‘Lord of the Rings’, it is little wonder that New Zealand has long been a favourite travel destination for Australians. New Zealand is full of natural beauty, friendly people and world-renowned food and wine. The mountainous scenery right around both the north and south islands of New Zealand is breathtaking in either summer or winter. Each of the major cities of Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown have a different feel to them and photo-worthy backdrops. But it is outdoor exploring away from the cities that draws most visitors to New Zealand. Queenstown is also a particularly popular destination for Australians during the winter months from mid-June to mid-October, offering some great ski resorts nearby.