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Australians free to travel to New Zealand again by July

written by Hannah Dowling | February 3, 2022

Air New Zealand 777-200 grounded at Auckland Airport.

Travellers from Australia will be allowed to travel to New Zealand without an exemption or quarantine requirements from July, over a year after the bilateral travel bubble was paused.

The New Zealand government has revealed its five-step plan to reopen its international borders and allow quarantine-free travel back into Aotearoa.

Under Step One, from 27 February, fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and residents will be free to return to the country from Australia without entering a two-week hotel quarantine.

Instead, returning New Zealanders will be able to complete 10 days of self-isolation at home, allowing travellers to avoid the country’s managed isolation and quarantine services (MIQ), allowing more people to travel back home to Aotearoa and saving them thousands of dollars.

Travellers will also be provided three rapid antigen tests at the airport, one for use on days zero or one, and one for use on days five or six, with one extra for backup.

Two weeks later, on 13 March, Kiwis and their families will also be allowed to return from anywhere else in the world, and again avoid entering MIQ under Step Two of the plan.

Certain visa holders, including working holiday visa holders and skilled migrant visa holders, will also be allowed to enter New Zealand from 13 March, and complete self-isolation.

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Step Three will see fully vaccinated offshore temporary visa holders with a valid visa allowed to enter New Zealand from anywhere in the world, along with up to 5,000 international students.

Double-jabbed Australians will be free to enter New Zealand as tourists under Step Four of the staggered reopening plan, currently planned to take place “no later than” July, however, will need to self-isolate upon arrival. No clear date has been set as of yet.

Other travellers from “countries who do not need a visa” and travellers arriving under the “Accredited Employer Work Visa categories”, will also be granted entry under Step Four.

Step Five, slated for October 2022, marks a total reopening of the international borders to all visa categories, including tourists from all over the world.

It comes after New Zealand pushed back its initial reopening plans in December, due to Omicron outbreak fears.

The government had previously announced that fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens would be able to travel to Australia and return home without entering a two-week quarantine from 16 January.

Meanwhile, double-jabbed Kiwis would be free to return home from anywhere in the world from 13 February – in a system very similar to Australia’s.

“With Omicron’s arrival, we pushed that change in border settings out – to give ourselves the chance to roll out boosters – a chance most other countries never had,” NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a speech on Thursday, announcing the staggered easing of border restrictions.

“With our community better protected, we must turn to the importance of reconnection. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections.”

Ardern said the gaps between the steps will allow the country’s healthcare systems to adapt to increasing infections at every stage.

Noting the reopening to Australia and other countries that do not require a tourist visa for entry into New Zealand, Ardern said that this step will likely bring the most amount of case numbers to the country, however reiterated that it will take place “not later than July”.

“I want to place strong emphasis on this being the latest we expect this to begin,” she said.

Isolation periods may drop from 10 days to seven days, should domestic isolation requirements also drop to seven days for positive COVID cases.

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