At long last, Australian travellers can return to New Zealand, with NZ’s border coming down from 12 April 2022. From precisely 11:59 pm on that date, there’ll no longer be a need to quarantine or isolate on arrival.

But it won’t be a free-for-all. Travellers must still meet vaccination and testing requirements. This includes testing both before and after arriving in NZ. Visitors from countries other than Australia will also need to wait a little longer before Aotearoa welcomes them back.

Here’s what you need to know.

New Zealand’s phased border opening

New Zealand will welcome visitors back in stages, with its border opening as below.

  • From 12 April 2022, 11:59 pm – Australians can travel to New Zealand quarantine-free.
  • Come May 1 2022 – Nationals of visa-waiver countries can visit quarantine-free. This roster includes those from the United Kingdom, United States, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and more. Those with a valid visitor visa can also travel quarantine-free from this date.
  • From October 2022 – Travellers who don’t qualify for visa-waiver entry or who don’t have a standard visitor visa can come quarantine-free. The New Zealand Government expects to provide more information for these travellers soon.

If coming from Australia, do take note of the specific start time on 12 April for quarantine-free travel. Arrive during that day and you’ll cross New Zealand’s border under the ‘old’ rules, requiring isolation on arrival.

To play it safe, we’d suggest planning your travels from 13 April onwards. There’d be nothing worse than a late-night flight pulling in a few minutes early, and touching down just before the isolation requirements ease!

Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we’re highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it’s now safe to open up.

Trans-Tasman travellers have historically made up 40 per cent of our international arrivals, with around 1.5 million Australians visiting each year. While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today’s announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many over the last two years.

We know that traveller numbers will be below pre-COVID levels for awhile and tourism globally will take time to rebound, but today’s announcement means were we’re ready to go, so haere mai welcome back.

– Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, 16 March 2022
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Vaccination and testing requirements for travel to New Zealand

To cross New Zealand’s border without quarantine, you’ll need to be fully vaccinated.

In most cases, this means two doses of an approved vaccine such as Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZenica or Novavax. But under NZ’s current rules, there’s no requirement for a third dose or booster shot.

The New Zealand Government’s website outlines the requirements based on each vaccine type. This includes four brands of COVID-19 vaccines not normally administered in Australia, but which some travellers may have received elsewhere.

As well, you’ll need to undergo COVID testing to meet New Zealand’s requirements, with multiple tests needed as follows.

  1. A pre-departure PCR test within 48 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. Or a supervised RAT or LAMP test no more than 24 hours before departure.
  2. A self-administered RAT after arriving in New Zealand. This test must be performed either on the day you arrive (‘day zero’) or by the end of the next day (‘day one’).
  3. If you’re still in the country, another self-administered RAT on day five or six. If you entered New Zealand on a Monday, that means completing the test later that week on either Saturday or Sunday.

While COVID-19 tests are never fun, you’ll receive two free RATs at the airport when you arrive in New Zealand. This means you won’t need to bring any with you, or hunt them down while you’re busy enjoying your holiday or business trip.

Summing up

New Zealand is welcoming Australian travellers back earlier than planned, while paving the way towards a broader return of international visitors.

While NZ has kept its borders largely closed for the past two years, it’s great to see things change. Families will once again be reunited, business travel gets back on track, and holidays across the ditch will return as a reality.

The only hard part is deciding where you’ll visit first!

Also read: Australia opens its borders to overseas travellers

Feature image courtesy ‘seb.’/Unsplash.

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New Zealand’s border opens, with Australians welcomed back from April 12 was last modified: August 31st, 2022 by Chris Chamberlin