New Zealand has “paused” its travel bubble with Australia once again. As of today only New Zealanders and permanent residents are allowed entry to the country.
Some allowed arrivals need to show a negative COVID-19 test result and/or quarantine, depending on the country they are coming from. The Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has announced that the borders will likely remain closed for most of 2021.
April 30 – New Zealand to put on hold its travel bubble with Australia
If there is something predictable in this unpredictable pandemic is the constant opening and closure of the New Zealand-Australia travel bubble.
Less than 2 weeks after the airline Qantas had brought back hundreds of employees, New Zealand has decided to “pause” its travel agreement with Australia due to new outbreaks in Perth and Peel.
“As set out in our Trans-Tasman bubble protocols, travel between New Zealand and Western Australia has been paused, pending further advice from the state government,” the New Zealand government said.
The decision was made after Australia announced a 3-day lockdown due to a traveler who tested positive for COVID-19 at a hotel quarantine.
The long awaited travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand will finally start on April 19, as announced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Australian nationals will be able to depart from one of the international lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. They won’t need to quarantine or bring any test, but they will have to undergo health checks. (Source)
On March 26, the Australian Government announced a change in their law to allow New Zealand citizens to freely come back. However, New Zealand is not taking the offer just yet.
Officials from the New Zealand government announced that they will retake the travel bubble agreement only until April 6.
“Opening up our borders to our nearest neighbor is a priority not only for tourism and business but also in terms of reuniting friends and families,” [but] “opening up a travel zone with Australia, without quarantine, is highly complex.” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the same day.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister has said that the country will need to reach herd immunity levels through vaccination before any foreigners are allowed to visit. Australian neighbors who have similar low contagion levels could be the first to benefit from the measure as they advance on the vaccination of their own population. (Source)
Given that New Zealand has administered only 9,431 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the goal of allowing entry to other countries seems to be more than a few months away in the future.
The New Zealand-Australia travel bubble was officially reopened on Jan. 31. This had been paused after a Kiwi woman infected with the highly contagious South African variant of Covid-19 visited about 30 locations in New Zealand before testing positive.
As of yet, “Green Zone Flights” from New Zealand are allowed to enter Australia.
New Zealand borders will likely remain closed for most of 2021.
The government has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Authorities are expected to begin vaccinating frontline healthcare and border workers in the coming months.
Who can enter New Zealand now?
New Zealand is not allowing any tourists. The only people permitted to enter the country, either by air or sea, are those who belong to the following categories:
Citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand. Some exemptions may be made for non-permanent residents
Partners and dependent children of citizens and residents
Those who hold a diplomatic post in New Zealand
All citizens and residents of Australia (starting April 19)
Other exemptions may be made for critical health and humanitarian workers, for citizens of Australia who normally live in New Zealand, for Samoans and Tongans under some circumstances, and for those with student visas under some circumstances.
For those who enter the country, a Covid-19 test is mandated as is a 14-day quarantine.
Can Americans visit New Zealand?
Unless they belong to one of the categories above, U.S. citizens are not allowed entry in New Zealand.
Who does not need to submit a COVID-19 test upon arrival?
Only travelers coming from Antarctica, Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna.
Is it safe to visit New Zealand?
New Zealand is one of the safest places to visit during COVID-19 due to its low infection rates. The level of warning by CDC is only 1 which means the risk is very low. (CDC.gov)
COVID-19 situation in New Zealand
The Lowy Institute’s COVID Performance Index has ranked New Zealand as the world’s most effective COVID-19 pandemic handler.
So far, the country has recorded only 2,613 cases and 26 deaths.
Why do tourists love New Zealand?
New Zealand is a nature-lovers paradise. It has beautiful beaches and offshore islands as well as subtropical forests, snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lakes, fjords, volcanoes, hot springs, beautiful rolling hills, and areas of flat plains.
There is so much diversity here for those who love nature, not only in terms of the landscape but also in terms of the flora and fauna.
New Zealand is home to plant and animal species, such as the kiwi, that can be found nowhere else. This small, flightless bird has become New Zealand’s national symbol and the friendly natives also often call themselves Kiwis. There are also unique plants such as the ancient, towering kauri trees and the nikau palms.
The country has an inviting camper culture for those who want to set out and explore all of these natural wonders on their own. The roads are well marked and towns all have information centers to advise tourists. There is also a bus network if you don’t want to drive.
There is ample opportunity for outdoor adventure as well. Bungee jumping was invented here and there are many locations where adventurers can give it a try, as well as places to go surfing, skiing, kayaking, and sailing. Visitors can take a hot-air balloon ride over Hobbiton, where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, or explore mammoth caves, as well.
Travelers can also check out the distinctive Maori culture, or try some world-class wine. Because the country is so sparsely populated, it has a very friendly, small-town feel once you leave Auckland, which is the largest city, and the best place to find diversity. Fans of ethnic restaurants will definitely want to spend some time there.
New Zealand has taken halting the spread of the coronavirus seriously. Because of its strict measures, the country is now operating as normal, for the most part.
However, the government remains vigilant so that, for the time being, travel into this island nation is severely limited. When it does open up, however, it provides much to attract those who love adventure, nature, and distinctive culture.