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When can Australians travel to New Zealand?

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Kiwis and Aussies typically enjoy easy transit between Australia and New Zealand, but with the world in flux, and our holidays up in the air, it’s hard to know what the current travel restrictions are. If you, like many of us, are thinking ‘when can I travel to New Zealand again?’ then read on. In this guide, we’ll cover the latest trans-Tasman travel bubble advice.

This article was last updated on 2 August 2021, and was correct at time of writing. For the latest information, check official government advice at Smartraveller.gov.au.

When can I travel to New Zealand?

When can I travel to New Zealand?

On 19 April, Australia and New Zealand established the Safe Travel Zone, a travel bubble that allows quarantine-free travel between the two countries.

However, quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand is suspended until further notice.

The following restrictions are in place:

  • If you are currently in New South Wales and need to return to New Zealand, you must travel on a managed return flight from 9 to 22 August 2021 and enter mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
  • Travellers from outside of New South Wales had until 30 July to return without needing to quarantine. To return back to New Zealand, they must book and pay for a quarantine space once it is available.
  • This suspension will be reviewed in September.

What are the conditions for the new trans-Tasman travel bubble?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble is currently suspended until further notice. The travel bubble conditions are set to be under review in September.

When the trans-Tasman travel bubble is open, these are the conditions that must be met:

All travellers must take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours of their departure to New Zealand, including travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Only those already in Australia or New Zealand can participate in the new trans-Tasman travel bubble. New Zealand also opened its travel bubble to Cook Islands on 17 May.*

To be eligible to travel to New Zealand, you must not have had a positive COVID-19 test within the previous 14 days or be currently awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

Masks will be required on each flight. Upon landing in New Zealand, travellers will need to download the NZ COVID Tracer app during their stay.

Passengers will arrive on green zone flights, booked with only fellow passengers from Australia or New Zealand. This means travellers will not be travelling with those repatriating or arriving from elsewhere overseas.

Because each country has the right to close their border at any time, flexibility is key when it comes to flights and accommodation.

What does the travel ban mean?

Though the trans-Tasman travel bubble opened on 19 April, Australia’s general global travel ban remains in place. At the moment, the travel ban means you are not allowed to leave Australia for any non-essential reasons like going on a holiday. However, if you do have an essential reason, you will need to apply for permission to travel from the Department of Home Affairs.

How does the trans-Tasman travel bubble work?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble allows Australians and New Zealand residents to travel freely between the two countries without needing to quarantine. Australian states and territories are able to act independently, and may choose not to participate in the trans-Tasman travel bubble. Federal and local governments can change their own restrictions at any time.

When did the trans-Tasman bubble form?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble opened on 18 April 2021 at 11:59pm GMT+12. However, the travel bubble is closed until further notice.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble may eventually include other nations with low to no COVID cases. Destinations like Singapore, Vanuatu, and Tonga are all hoping to be considered in further expansions of the travel bubble. New Zealand and Cook Islands formed a travel bubble on 17 May.

wai-o-tapu in new zealand

Can I travel to New Zealand if I am a New Zealand citizen or resident?

New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and residents with valid travel conditions do not need to apply to New Zealand’s immigration authorities to travel home.

What about those who want to travel to New Zealand from outside of Australia?

The NZ border is currently closed to most travellers–specifically non citizens. To find out if you qualify to apply for entry, you will need to visit Immigration New Zealand’s COVID-19 website. As of 17 May, residents of Cook Islands can enter New Zealand without needing to quarantine.

Anyone who enters New Zealand on a temporary entry visa will need to comply with the health regulations in place to tackle COVID-19. Also, any new resident and temporary visas granted will now have to comply with:

  • any order made under section 11 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and
  • any order made under section 70 of the Health Act 1956 and listed in schedule 2 of the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, and
  • any instruction from a Medical Officer of Health which relates to a notifiable or quarantinable disease. 

New Zealand is also allowing entry for critical workers who meet strict criteria for certain types of health workers, humanitarian, replacement crew and others.

If you are entering New Zealand from outside of Australia, you will be tested for COVID-19 and subject to a 14-day managed quarantine or isolation when you arrive. You will also be expected to pay for part or all of the cost of quarantine, which is about $3,100 NZD for the first person in a room. Additional adults in the room will cost $950 NZD and children will cost $475 NZD. Children under the age of 3 will not be charged.

What does ‘essential travel’ mean?

You can travel overseas if the government deems your reasons for travelling as necessary. You will also need to provide evidence for these reasons, and your travel will need to align with the below requirements:

  • your travel is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes providing aid.
  • your travel is essential to critical business industries
  • you need medical treatment that is not accessible or available in Australia
  • you need to travel on urgent (and unpreventable) personal business
  • you need to travel on compassionate or humanitarian grounds 
  • your need to travel is in Australia’s national interest.

How do I stay safe while travelling now that New Zealand has opened?

There are ways you can lower your health risks while you travel. The World Health Organisation has released official guidelines to mitigate risk of COVID-19 transmission like washing your hands thoroughly and regularly, using hand sanitiser after coming in contact with high-touch surfaces, socially distancing, and wearing a face mask. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not travel. Instead, self isolate and get tested.

How are airlines handling flights to New Zealand?

Following the announcement of the trans-Tasman travel bubble opening, major airlines like Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar are offering increased flights between the two countries. However, flights between Australia and New Zealand are currently impacted due to an outbreak within Australia.

When you can fly to New Zealand, it’ll be some relief to know that the airlines are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of infection. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has specifically written up guidelines for companies to follow, both in the airport and onboard.

Luckily, there are also natural barriers between passengers thanks to the limited rate of mixing, HEPA filters, seatbacks, and reduced face-to-face interaction. The IATA is also requiring all passengers to wear masks while they fly.

traveller in airport waving

Airlines like Air New Zealand are enacting physical distancing measures (families and travel groups can stay together). They are separating self check-in kiosks, encouraging online check-in, and have closed many lounge and valet services. Customers departing from Auckland Airport are mandated to wear masks, as are airline staff members. Expect increased cleanings and limited food options as the airline takes extra measures to decrease in person interaction. Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar have enacted similar health measures onboard their aircraft.

Where can I find out more official NZ travel information?

  • Smart Traveller – Run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, this website provides users with the latest information and restrictions on overseas destinations.
  • Immigration New Zealand – A resource managed by the New Zealand government that grants visas and offers up-to-date information on travel to and from New Zealand.
  • Immigration New Zealand COVID-19 – A dedicated page within the Immigration New Zealand platform that covers all things to do with COVID-19 and entry into the country.
  • COVID-19 New Zealand Government – This website provides overall information on the pandemic in New Zealand, including travel restrictions currently in place nationally.
  • Department of Home Affairs – A government website that provides support and information for Australian citizens needing to travel or return home.

Other useful COVID-19 travel resources

  • COVIDSafe App – An app that allows the government to identify people affected with the virus and alerts others who those affected may have been in contact with.
  • Coronavirus Australia App – Publishes the latest government advice and information all to your phone.

Common questions about travelling to New Zealand during COVID-19

What is the trans-Tasman bubble?

The trans-Tasman bubble is when travellers can travel freely between Australia and New Zealand without having to quarantine on arrival.

When did the trans-Tasman travel bubble open?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble opened on 18 April 2021 11:59pm GMT+12. This means travellers going between the Australia and New Zealand do not need to quarantine (though local governments may opt in or out of the bubble). The trans-Tasman travel bubble is currently suspended until further notice.

Is the vaccine available in New Zealand?

New Zealand has started their nationwide vaccination program. Presently, high-risk frontline workers and people living in high risk places are currently eligible for the vaccine. People who are high risk of getting severely ill from the vaccine will be eligible from May, and New Zealand’s general population will be eligible from July, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health official timeline.

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