New Zealand opened up to international tourists on May 2 © Shutterstock
New Zealand opened up to international tourists on May 2 © Shutterstock

New Zealand welcomes back international tourists after two years

TripFalcon May 03, 2022

Last Update: 2022-05-02 22:17:49

New Zealand finally opened its borders to international tourists today, welcoming back visitors from some 60 visa-waiver nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States.

The country had taken steps in recent months to relax border controls, like allowing in New Zealanders living abroad, as well as visitors from neighboring Australia. But today marks a major milestone in New Zealand's phased reopening plan as it pulls the doors open for international tourists for the first time since March 2020.

Thousands of passengers from the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and others touched down today on around 25 flights at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch international airports.

Speaking to RNZ, an American tourist arriving in New Zealand said they had waited a long time to visit. "I’m finally here. It’s amazing,” they said.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said interest in travel to New Zealand remains high. “We are currently seeing around 33,000 arrivals per week and we know today’s changes will further boost arrivals," he said.

Nash said international flight searches to New Zealand were running 19% higher than in pre-COVID times and several major airlines are restarting and adding routes to meet demand, including the first ever direct flight between New Zealand and New York City.

“Later this year major international airlines like Emirates, Air Canada, Malaysian Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, LATAM Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui are restarting routes," he said. "Air NZ is also adding long haul routes from San Francisco, Honolulu, Houston, New York and Chicago."

New Zealand entry rules: tests and vaccination

Vaccinated arrivals no longer have to self-isolate on their arrival, but anyone over the age of two will continue to test for COVID-19.

Travelers need to take a pre-departure test. Upon landing in New Zealand, they'll be given three rapid antigen tests at the airport to take home. One for use on day one of their arrival, one for use on day five or six, with one extra, the third test, for backup.

Arrivals who return a positive result will be required to take a PCR test at a community testing station so that New Zealand can keep tabs on any emerging variants and isolate cases as needed.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-run center.

To be considered fully vaccinated, arrivals must have completed the primary course of a vaccine schedule. That generally means they've received at least two doses, or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, one dose. A booster is not required for entry at this stage.

The further phased opening up of New Zealand’s borders will continue in October, when the country will fully reopen to visitors from anywhere in the world and normal visa processing will resume.

Source: lonelyplanet