Unlocking the World

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

CNN StaffUpdated 6th May 2021
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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 May 6.
(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.
New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travelers from India, including New Zealand citizens, for two weeks from April 11.
A two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and Australia opened in April, allowing passengers to move quarantine-free between both countries for the first time in more than a year.
Authorities made clear from the start that regional outbreaks could see the bubble curtailed. And indeed, on May 6, the New Zealand government announced that flights from Sydney would be paused for 48 hours. Travel from New Zealand to Australia has not been affected.
Under the new rules, travelers won't be allowed to travel if they had a positive Covid-19 test in the previous 14 days or present flu-like symptoms.
There is also a one-way travel bubble with the Cook Islands, which allows visitors from the Cook Islands quarantine-free entry into New Zealand. A two-way bubble is set to open May 17.
A one-way travel bubble from the Pacific Island of Niue commenced 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 2,633 cases overall.
On January 26, 2021, Ardern said that New Zealand's borders will remain closed for most of this year, aside from pursuing 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.
All visitors and citizens are encouraged to use the NZ COVID Tracer app.

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 February CNN Travel took a deep dive into cheese rolls: a humble snack that has become a signature New Zealand food.