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

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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 March 19.

(CNN) — 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.

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 2020. 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.

There is a one-way travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia which allows travelers from New Zealand to fly to the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory without having to quarantine.

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

On March 17, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson announced that the long-awaited two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia was “close” to being finalized.

A one-way travel bubble from the Pacific Island of Niue will commence on March 24.

What’s the Covid situation?

The country’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has won plaudits for her handling of the crisis, in which only 26 people have died, with 2,444 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?

All of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1, the lowest restriction level. Face coverings must be worn on public transport and domestic flights, and it’s recommended to keep a safe distance from others when out and about, but otherwise life can continue relatively as normal.

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 closed a road for a month to let sea lions nest safely.

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



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