If you’re planning to travel to New Zealand, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Zealand has been a poster child for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures meant it suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.
All this came at a price, however. Its zero-Covid strategy made it one of the world’s most closed-off nations, but this started to change as the country moved to a new policy focused on vaccination efforts and living with the virus.
A gradual reopening of international borders was set to begin January 17, 2022, but the phased reopening has been pushed back until the end of February over concerns about the Omicron variant.
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.
All foreign nationals entering New Zealand need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Air New Zealand, the country’s flag carrier airline, has announced that from February 1, 2022, passengers on its international flights will also need to be fully vaccinated.
The country’s two-way travel bubble with Australia is currently suspended, but quarantine-free travel for vaccinated passengers from New Zealand to Australia resumed at the start of November.
Travelers from the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau and Vanuatu do not have to quarantine on arrival in New Zealand.
On December 21, the government announced it was holding off on further reopening until the end of February.
All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must be fully vaccinated and present a negative test, taken within 48 hours of travel (shortened from 72 hours on December 21). They must then enter mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.
The 14-day hotel quarantine period was shortened to seven days for fully vaccinated travelers from abroad, with a plan to move to a system of home isolation for fully vaccinated arrivals in 2022. However, on December 21, the government announced that the seven-day quarantine would be temporarily extended to 10 days.
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. Places are currently very limited.
US CDC Travel Advisory:
Level 2: Moderate. You should be fully vaccinated before traveling.
Government site on border closures
Booking site for self-isolation facilities
Our recent coverage
The winner of New Zealand’s annual “Bird of the Year” competition was announced in November — and in 2021 it was won by a bat.
In September, New Zealand’s Māori Party launched a petition to change the official name of the country to Aotearoa, its name in the te reo Māori language.
Kiwi singer Lorde also recently recorded five songs of her new album “Solar Power” in te reo Māori.
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Joe Minihane, Julia Buckley, Maureen O’Hare, Carly Walsh, Ben Westcott, Hira Humayun, Wayne Chang, Jeevan Ravindran and Sophie Jeong contributed to this report
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