Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on October 4.
(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.
New Zealand has been a 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.
However, the country is now working hard to contain a recent outbreak of the Delta variant. There have been 634 new cases in the past month while just over 41% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center.
Auckland and parts of Waikato are at alert level 3 -- retail and hospitality is closed and travel restrictions apply -- while the rest of the country is at alert level 2.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on October 4 that in the future New Zealand will move away from its strategy of eliminating coronavirus.
"It's clear that long periods of heavy restrictions has not got us to zero cases, but that is OK," Ardern said in a news conference. "Elimination was important because we didn't have vaccines. Now we do, so we can begin to change the way we do things."
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.
The New Zealand government announced on October 3 that, from November 1, all foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
On the same day, Air New Zealand, the country's flag carrier airline, announced that passengers on its international flights will also need to be fully vaccinated. It will start implementing the policy on February 1, 2022.
New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travelers from India, including New Zealand citizens.
The country's two-way travel bubble with Australia was suspended in July. As Australia is tackling an outbreak of its own, New Zealand's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on September 8 that it would be be "unrealistic to expect that there'll be speedy decisions in the next few weeks."
Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands is paused, but New Zealanders can travel from the Cook Islands back into New Zealand, under certain conditions. A one-way travel bubble from the Pacific Island of Niue also remains in place.
According to a New Zealand government statement, under the new system, vaccinated travelers coming from high-risk countries would still have to quarantine in a managed facility for 14 days, but those from medium-risk countries could have reduced quarantine, or be allowed to self-isolate, while those from low risk countries would be allowed in without having to quarantine.
New Zealand has not yet announced which countries which be classified as low, medium or high risk.
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.
US CDC Travel Advisory:
Level 1: Low. You should be fully vaccinated before traveling.
Our recent coverage
Two men with a car trunk "full of KFC" takeout were arrested while trying to enter locked-down Auckland in September. The same month, 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.