New Zealand has reopened its international borders to tourists from dozens of visa-waiver countries, in the next major step in the country’s gradual reopening plan.
As of 11:59pm on 1 May, fully-vaccinated arrivals from nearly 60 countries around the globe, including the UK, US, Canada, and much of Europe, are now free to enter New Zealand without entering hotel quarantine.
Arrivals are still required to present either a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 48 hours of departing for New Zealand, or a supervised Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) within 24 hours of boarding their flight.
Upon arrival in New Zealand, travellers will be provided an additional two RATs to be taken on day 0/1 and 5/6 of their travel.
It marks the next major step in New Zealand’s border reopening roadmap, after quarantine requirements for Australian citizens and residents were lifted two weeks ago.
The first quarantine-free tourist flight to touch down at Auckland International following eased restrictions on Monday was Air New Zealand flight NZ5 from Los Angeles, which landed at 5:29am.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner spent just over 12 hours in the air, after taking off from LAX at 10:07pm.
It was followed shortly after by another Air New Zealand 787 flight, this time from San Francisco, which landed in Auckland at 7:37am.
Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said the carrier has three flights in total landing at Auckland International Airport from visa-waiver countries on 2 May, all of which are “filled to the brim” with overseas visitors and returning Kiwis.
“It’s great to have international tourists being able to visit our beautiful country again and explore everything Aotearoa New Zealand has to offer,” she said.
The third flight, NZ953, arrives from Nadi, Fiji at 5pm local time.
“Demand has exceeded expectations with many of our services filling up. We’re pleased with how bookings are going across the network, both domestic and international,” Geraghty said.
“This is welcome news for the New Zealand tourism industry who has weathered a difficult storm over the past 800 days.”
In light of the border opening, Air New Zealand said it plans to ramp up its international network in the coming months, with flights to Honolulu and Houston routes resuming on 4 July and 7 July, respectively.
“We’re also seeing great demand out of New Zealand as Kiwis book their long-awaited winter getaway, with popular destinations like Fiji and Honolulu being snapped up,” Geraghty said.