New Zealand Eliminates Vaccine, Testing Requirements for Travel — What to Know

“It’s time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management, and live without the extraordinary measures we have previously used,” Prime Minister Ardern said.

New Zealand has eliminated all COVID-19-related travel restrictions and testing requirements, marking the end of what was once some of the strictest pandemic-era rules in the world. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted all vaccine restrictions, starting Sept. 13, as well as lifted the requirement to self-test after arrival. Going forward, testing will simply be “encouraged,” but not mandated.

“It’s time to safely turn the page on our COVID-19 management, and live without the extraordinary measures we have previously used,” Ardern said in a statement. “Today marks a milestone in our response. Finally, rather than feeling that COVID dictates what happens to us, our lives, and our futures, we take back control.”

People Enjoying the Beach in New Zealand

Jara Dekker/Getty Images

Previously, New Zealand required travelers to show proof of vaccination to enter as well as test right after arrival and then again on day 5 to 6 and report the results. The country will still hand out free rapid antigen tests at the airport to incoming travelers, according to the government

New Zealand has also eliminated mask wearing rules, except in healthcare settings, but individual places can still impose their own mask requirements. 

For its part, Air New Zealand told Travel + Leisure it would lift mask rules on board its international and domestic flights. The carrier will continue to make masks available to customers who want them.

“Masks have played an important part in keeping customers, crew and communities safe during the Covid pandemic, but it’s time to say farewell,” Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Leanne Geraghty said in a statement provided to T+L. “While some customers and employees will welcome this news, it doesn’t mean masks are disappearing forever. We really encourage customers to continue to do what makes them comfortable, which is the same message we’re sharing with our employees.”

The lifting of its pandemic-era rules comes as New Zealand has vaccinated 90% of people 12 and older with at least two doses, according to the government.

New Zealand first reopened to vaccinated tourists in May of this year before dropping pre-arrival testing rules for those vaccinated visitors in June and lifting restrictions on cruise ships in August.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles