New Zealand Just Announced Its Border Reopening Plan — Here's What Tourists Need to Know
New Zealand laid out a phased reopening plan on Wednesday announcing the country will fully reopen its borders to international travelers in April of next year.
Starting on Jan. 16, 2022, the country will allow fully vaccinated New Zealanders to return from Australia without a hotel quarantine. Travelers will still have to self-isolate for seven days.
Then on Feb. 13, the country will welcome fully vaccinated Kiwis from most other countries. And finally, on April 30, the country plans to start allowing all fully vaccinated travelers to enter, potentially staged by visa category.
"Closing our border was one of the first steps we took to keep our country safe from COVID-19 and it'll be the last thing we open up… We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors, and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare," Chris Hipkins, the country's minister for COVID-19 response, said in a statement. "It's very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality."
He added: "Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that's understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it's been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight."
New Zealand has implemented one of the strictest COVID-19-related travel policies in the world and nearly all arrivals must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel. Arriving foreign nationals 18 and older are also required to be fully vaccinated to enter.
In October, Air New Zealand said it would require all international passengers 18 and older to be fully vaccinated before boarding an international flight starting on Feb. 1, 2022, becoming the latest carrier to announce a vaccine mandate for customers.
Currently, 77% of all Kiwis have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 71% have received two doses, according to the Ministry of Health.
Beyond the phased border reopening, the country will allow bars and restaurants to reopen in Auckland starting Dec. 2, moving even further away from the lockdown that gripped the city in August, The Associated Press reported.
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.