|Update: While New Zealand opened to vaccinated travelers from visa-waiver countries as of May 1, 2022, the country has now moved forward the timeline for the rest of its border reopening. Vaccinated travelers from the rest of the globe will be allowed to enter New Zealand as of July 31, 2022. I’ve updated the below post to reflect that.|
Australia and New Zealand were two of the countries that initially took among the strictest approaches toward managing coronavirus, with both countries more or less keeping their borders closed for nearly two years.
In February, Australia reopened its borders to vaccinated visitors from around the world. In mid-March, New Zealand revealed the timeline with which it would open to vaccinated visitors. It’s exciting that as of May 1, 2022, New Zealand is once again open to travelers, marking a further return to normal when it comes to global travel.
New Zealand’s phased border reopening plan
New Zealand is taking a phased approach to reopening borders, but arguably the most significant step has just been taken. For context on the timeline:
- Since February 27, 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and select other eligible travelers arriving from Australia are able to arrive in New Zealand without having to go into a quarantine facility, but rather they can self-isolate
- Since March 13, 2022, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and select other eligible travelers from around the globe are able to arrive in New Zealand without having to go into a quarantine facility and without having to self-isolate
- Since April 12, 2022, fully vaccinated Australians and temporary work and student visa holders from around the world are allowed to enter the country again, without having to go into a quarantine facility and without having to self-isolate
- Since May 1, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers from visa-waiver countries (including the United States) are allowed to enter the country, without having to go into a quarantine facility and without having to self-isolate; note that unvaccinated children 16 or under can enter the country as well
- As of July 31, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers from all other visa categories, including those on visitor and student visas, will be allowed to enter the country, without having to go into a quarantine facility and without having to self-isolate
- As of July 31, 2022, cruise ships will be able to enter New Zealand, with the opening of the maritime border
New Zealand has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 95% of the population fully vaccinated. While the country managed to keep daily coronavirus cases in the single digits for much of the pandemic, the country faced a major omicron outbreak in early 2022. During the peak, New Zealand saw an average of 20,000+ cases per day. For a population of just around five million, that’s a lot of cases.
New Zealand’s testing requirement for vaccinated visitors
As mentioned above, New Zealand is now open to vaccinated travelers from roughly 60 visa-waiver countries. However, travel does require up to three tests:
- Vaccinated visitors to New Zealand need to get tested before travel; a PCR test within 48 hours of departure is acceptable, or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure
- Up to two rapid antigen tests are also required on arrival; travelers will be given a pack of tests, and need to take one within a day of arriving in New Zealand, and one on the fifth or sixth day in the country
While there’s some testing requirement here (unlike lots of other countries), at least this isn’t too bad.
My take on New Zealand’s border reopening
New Zealand’s pandemic response has certainly been polarizing. The country did what it could to protect citizens from coronavirus, though the question is at what cost. Of course New Zealand’s government needs to represent the will of the people, so I suppose our outsider opinions don’t really matter.
Personally I thought New Zealand did a great job early on in the pandemic, when we didn’t have vaccines, and healthcare systems around the globe were overwhelmed.
But two years into the pandemic, New Zealand ended up caving like many other countries that initially took a similar approach. New Zealand pursued a zero coronavirus strategy, and when it became clear that was no longer possible, the country decided to gradually open borders.
It’s awesome to see New Zealand finally open to vaccinated travelers, with a reasonable testing requirement, all things considered. While New Zealand isn’t going as far as Australia or Singapore in ditching testing requirements for vaccinated travelers, this ultimately shouldn’t be a huge roadblock for anyone interested in visiting this gorgeous country.
As of May 1, 2022, New Zealand has reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers from visa-waiver countries. Up to three tests are required, including one pre-travel test, and two rapid antigen tests on arrival. On top of that, we now know that New Zealand will open its borders to the rest of the world as of July 31, 2022.
It’s nice to see the world continuing to slowly return to normal, especially among the countries that were initially most conservative.
What do you make of New Zealand’s border reopening? Anyone planning a visit?