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Traveling to New Zealand During Covid-19

Update: New Zealand borders are closed. Travel bubble has been suspended.

New Zealand is slowly starting to open its borders as for the first-ever time in a year, people are permitted to travel from Australia to New Zealand without having to put up with measures of strict quarantine. The leaders of both countries are hoping to make more extensive arrangements. A trans-Tasman travel bubble has been kicked off between the 2 Pacific nations.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble permits New Zealand and Australian people to visit one another’s country with no limitations. The governments of both countries placed tight restrictions regarding entering the borders in March 2020, primarily on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, expressed that it is fantastic and exciting news that the country can now start quarantine-free travels with Australia. Whether you are returning friends, family, or holidays, New Zealand now welcomes everybody from Australia to come and enjoy themselves.  

NZ Announces Quarantine Free Travel with the Cook Islands

Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Prime Minister, announced earlier this week that the country will be forming a travel bubble that will permit quarantine-free travel with the Cook Islands. This travel between these two countries is expected to begin on May 17, 2021. 

Arden announced at a news press briefing in Wellington that the 2 nations somehow made an arrangement as they both exhibited a robust response against the novel Covid-19 pandemic. 

Just last month, Australia and New Zealand have come to a similar agreement and made arrangements for quarantine-free travels. Under this, visitors to each country must not have had a positive test result in the past 14 days, cannot be awaiting the Covid-19 test results, and cannot be experiencing any signs or symptoms of coronavirus. 

Arden also stated that New Zealand would aid the people of Cook Islands with vaccine rollout for Covid-19 by supplying sufficient amounts of Pfizer BioNTech doses so that the entire population can receive immunizations. 

The Cooks Island lies approximately 3.2k km to the northeast of New Zealand. Moreover, the island heavily depends on the tourists of New Zealand for its economy.

How Does it Impact the Rest of the World That Wants to Travel to New Zealand?

For several months, the Australians and Kiwis have remained stuck at home, anxiously and desperately awaiting the day when they can finally cross the ditch to meet their nearest and dearest friends and family. At present, the quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand has made the entire world envious.

The people who are watching from across the globe have been awestruck looking at the ability of both nations to stop the deadly Covid-19 pandemic and finally opening their country borders for each other. This move proved to be incredibly earth-shattering, to the extent that it made the front page of BBC and international headlines.

While the launch of the trans-Tasman travel bubble has allowed quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand, the borders of New Zealand still remain closed to the rest of the world throughout the significant part of 2021 between uncertainties regarding the Covid-19 vaccine rollouts.

According to Prime Minister Arden, the travel bubble will continue to pursue with the Pacific and Australia. However, the other countries of the world are still highly likely to pose too much of a risk to the New Zealander’s health. Their economy is still not in a position at this stage to take this risk.

The success of the nation in combating the deadly virus is what has enabled it to lift off the tight restrictions and get its industry and economy back on track earlier than it has expected. Still, the closed borders badly affect the New Zealand tourism industry and become a means of disappointment for the rest of the world as they cannot travel to NZ.

Also, even though it was announced that the government anticipates providing regulatory approval for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine in the subsequent week, Arden proposed that even mass immunization won’t start any time before mid-year. A conservative approach was being taken to let foreigners enter inside the borders again.

For traveling to fully resume and restart, one of the two things are needed: 

  1. The need of confidence that getting vaccinated indicates you cannot pass on the virus to others, which still remains unknown. 
  2. The need for a significant amount of the population to be immunized and protect so that the rest of the world can safely enter the New Zealand borders.

Unfortunately, both of these things are bound to take some time, so the remaining countries of the world need to be patient and wait.  

New Zealand Covid-19 Cases

Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Prime Minister, has won praises and gained a lot of recognition for her commendable abilities of handling this deadly crisis. As reported on May 6, 2021, the overall number of confirmed coronavirus cases is 2,633. 26 actual deaths have been reported on account of the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 2,579 individuals have successfully recovered from the virus.

How to Enter New Zealand Once Its Borders Open For All

Undoubtedly, New Zealand has become an ideal example of how a country should deal with the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. Its initial strict border measures and lockdown indicate that it suppressed coronavirus from a very early stage to an alarming degree. This success also signifies that it will be a long time before most foreign travelers are permitted to go to New Zealand.

Who can go?

Besides the few exceptions for dependents, critical workers, and dependents, only New Zealand citizens and residents can enter the country without placing a request to travel. Any other travel into New Zealand should be for a fundamental reason and must first obtain admission. 

What are the restrictions?

Entry from countries to New Zealand remains under strict control to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic from spreading further. The government has managed to impose and implement some of the world’s most demanding travel procedures and guidelines ever since the Covid-19 first started to spread in March 2020.

All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, are required to test negative for the coronavirus and undertake 14 days of compulsory quarantine before entering the community. Travelers from all countries to New Zealand, besides the authorized passengers from quarantine-exempted travel districts, must fulfill a mandatory 14-day quarantine or stay in a managed isolation.

The arriving visitors must book their place in a quarantine facility and managed isolation before traveling. They should carry a voucher confirming that they booked a space and present it before boarding the flight.

Currently, the availability is particularly restricted. Travelers coming in from the USA or the United Kingdom should also show proof of a negative test result for Covid-19 before they board the flight. 

The New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)

A few transit passengers and tourist visitors can visit New Zealand without a visa, provided they get themselves an NZeTA before traveling. The NZeTA stands for New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has only recently announced the Electronic travel authority (eTA) for the citizens of more than sixty countries.

According to this eTA, travelers will be allowed to enter New Zealand for tourism or transit purposes. It has a validity of 2 years. The New Zealand eTA application process is quite simple, easy, and entirely online.

Once you submit your application and it becomes accepted, you will receive a confirmation along with a reference number. This needs to be taken and presented to the immigration officers as soon as you arrive. With the NZeTA, you can:

  • Pass as a transit passenger through the Auckland International Airport on the way from or to Australia.
  • Travel to New Zealand without needing to apply for a visa – if you are traveling from a visa waiver country on a passport or a permanent Australian resident or a cruise ship passenger. 
  • Get somebody to assist you with the NZeTA request. You have to inform about your criminal history and whether you are looking for medical aid and treatment in New Zealand.
  • Pass as a transit passenger through the Auckland International Airport on your way to another destination – if you come from a transit waiver or visa waiver country. 

Things to Note

  1. If you are from a visa waiving country, you must hold an NZeTA before traveling.
  2. On average, it takes roughly 72 hours to process, but sometimes it might barely take just 10 minutes. 
  3. You need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) while you pay for your NZeTA. This costs around NZD $35. 
  4. After your request for NZeTA has been completed, you can always check for its status. 
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