Tips & News

New Zealand Has Reopened Way Sooner Than They Said They Would

Start booking those wine drives and glacier hikes now.

Air Milford, Queenstown, New Zealand

Air Milford, Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo by Reel Factory/Courtesy of New Zealand Tourism

By Alison Fox

May 2, 2022

NEW ZEALAND HAS REOPENED to tourists as of May 2, lifting one of the strictest border closures in the world.

With just a few standard testing requirements, New Zealand has reopened to vaccinated tourists from visa-waiver countries, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement. Travelers will not be required to self-isolate upon arrival.

“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop Covid-19 two years ago. It did the job we needed. But now that we’re highly vaccinated and predicted to be off our Omicron peak, it’s now safe to open up,” Ardern said in a statement. “In a world still battling Covid-19, travelers will be discerning about where they go in the short term. Our strong health response including the lowest death rate in the OECD over the past two years and our high rates of vaccination, alongside our reputation as a beautiful place to visit, will be an asset in this market.”

Auckland City, New Zealand
Auckland City, New Zealand. Photo by Mathew Crawford/Courtesy of New Zealand Tourism

The reopening is just over two weeks after New Zealand began welcoming Australian travelers isolation-free. It’s also months earlier than officials previously planned to open up to international travel.

“We look forward to welcoming manuhiri [visitors], family and friends back in May,” Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive René de Monchy said in a statement provided to Travel Leisure. “New Zealand has plenty to offer international visitors from breathtaking landscapes, rare and remarkable wildlife to our rich culture and heritage; our people and place are what make us unique, and we look forward to sharing this with the world again.”

Naturally Beautiful Countries
Milford Sound’s fjords shore overgrown with marsh grass. Photo by kavram/Getty Images/Canva

Travelers must be vaccinated and arrive with proof of either a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of their departure or proof of a supervised rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of their departure, according to the government. Additionally, travelers will have to undergo rapid antigen tests on the first day they arrive as well as on day 5 or 6 of their trip, which will be provided for free upon arrival at Auckland Airport, according to the tourism board.

The decision to open up followed a spike in cases in the country. However, New Zealand has a very high vaccination rate with 95% of people 12 and older having been fully vaccinated, according to the government.

New Zealand’s plans to open come weeks after neighboring Australia fully reopened its borders following a nearly two-year closure.

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