April 15, 2021

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Travel to New Zealand during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

4 min read

Editor’s Note — Coronavirus cases remain high across the globe. Health officials caution that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading the virus. Staying home is the best way to stem transmission. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on February 2.

(CNN) — If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

New Zealand has become the poster child for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures mean it has suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.

That success also means that it will likely be quite a while before most international travelers are allowed to visit.

What’s on offer

New Zealand’s landscape is the stuff of legend. Arthur’s Pass National Park, with its soaring peaks and deep valleys is ripe for “tramping,” the locals’ term for a good, long hike. Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach offer vast sea views from the tip of North Island. Meanwhile, indigenous Maori culture permeates every aspect of the country. Pick up an RV and it’s easy to find an empty corner of this magical country to explore.

Who can go

The rules are simple. Other than a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers, only New Zealand residents and citizens are allowed into the country without first requesting to travel.

Any other travel into the country must be for a critical purpose and admission must be obtained first. You can find out more about border entry requirements here.

What are the restrictions?

New Zealand has maintained some of the toughest travel guidelines in the world since March. All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.

All arrivals must book their place in a managed isolation and quarantine facility prior to travel, and a voucher confirming that a space has been booked must be presented before boarding. Availability is currently extremely limited.

Travelers coming from the United Kingdom or United States must also have a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their flight.

On January 31, Australia ended its temporary suspension of the one-way travel bubble which allows travelers from New Zealand to Australia to fly to the states of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine.

Australia’s acting chief medical officer Michael Kidd has recommended that pre- and post-screening be implemented on flights from New Zealand into Australia for the ten days following the lifting of the suspension.

New Zealand travelers will still also have to spend 14 days isolating in a managed isolation and quarantine facility on their return.

Plans for a two-way travel bubble between the countries are yet to be finalized. More details can be found on the Australian and New Zealand government websites.
A one-way travel bubble with the Cook Islands opened on January 21, with passengers from the Cook Islands permitted quarantine-free travel into New Zealand. However, passengers from New Zealand to the Cook Islands are still required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

What’s the Covid situation?

On January 24, 2021, New Zealand confirmed a community case of the new South African Covid-19 variant — the country’s first Covid-19 case in the community since November 2020. Until that point, all recent positives had come from inside managed isolation facilities.

After a handful of cases were found in Auckland in August after 102 days without a positive test, the city went back into a strict lockdown until October. The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has won plaudits for her handling of the crisis, in which only 25 people have died, with 2,307 cases overall.

On January 26, 2021, Ardern said that New Zealand’s borders will remain closed for most of this year, but the country will continue to pursue travel arrangements with neighboring Australia and other Pacific nations.

What can visitors expect?

Those able to enter New Zealand will find life lived much as it was pre-pandemic. The country is currently at Alert Level 1, which means that the virus is contained. Mass gatherings are limited to 500, but while physical distancing is encouraged, it isn’t mandatory. Bars and restaurants are open, but contact tracing measures are in place.

The country’s Alert Levels go up to 4, at which point a stay-at-home order would be in place and education facilities would be closed.

Useful links

Our latest coverage

Most international travelers might be barred from entering the country, but the New Zealand’s tourist board’s long-running “Do Something New” campaign continues unabated. Its latest move was a two-minute video urging tourists to think outside the box and not copy other people’s clichéd social media posts.
Meanwhile, in one of 2021’s cutest travel restrictions, a local council in Dunedin has closed a road for a month to let sea lions nest safely.

Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley and Maureen O’Hare contributed to this report




2021-02-02 12:07:48


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