New Zealand’s prime minister recently announced that the country’s borders will soon reopen to most tourists.
The announcement, and its timing, were welcomed by New Zealand’s citizens and tourists alike because it moves the reopening time frame up considerably.
A previous reopening plan stipulated that citizens from countries such as the U.S., Canada, and the UK wouldn’t be able to visit New Zealand until July 2022. Now, however, tourists from Australia who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 will be able to visit New Zealand beginning April 12, and fully vaccinated tourists from countries including the U.S. can begin visiting New Zealand May 1.
“We’re ready to welcome the world back,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, according to The Guardian. “New Zealand will be ready with open arms.”
A Strict Closure
New Zealand closed its borders in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began and has essentially remained that way since then. While the closure is credited with saving thousands of lives, it also came at a steep cost.
New Zealand is known for its beautiful scenery and adventure tourism. Indeed, tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry that accounts for as much as 16 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product, according to NPR. During the pandemic, however, those numbers plummeted due to the lack of tourists.
“Closing our border was one of the first actions we took to stop COVID-19, over two years ago. We have now received guidance that it is safe to significantly bring forward the next stage of our border reopening work: Our tourists,” Ardern announced, according to NPR. “The reopening will spur our economic recovery throughout the remainder of the year.”
Here’s why the accelerated reopening is possible. Just over 96 percent of the country’s population over the age of 12 is now either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or they have also received a booster, according to New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. Secondly, while 14,148 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in New Zealand on March 17, that number is dramatically down from the country’s record one-day high number of 39,814 new cases recorded on March 11, 2022, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
The Reopening Timeline
New Zealand announced on Wednesday that beginning at 11:59 p.m. on April 12, fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents can enter New Zealand without the need to isolate themselves or enter a managed isolation quarantine facility.
Then, beginning at 11:59 p.m. on May 1, fully vaccinated visitors from visa waiver countries – such as the U.S. – and visitors from other countries who already hold a valid visitor visa can enter New Zealand without the need to isolate themselves or enter a managed isolation quarantine facility.
You can find the full details about tourists visiting New Zealand here.
Know Before You Go
If you are thinking about traveling to New Zealand, keep in mind that the country has seen a recent surge in cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. However, the daily and weekly cases counts are declining.
It should be noted, however, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added New Zealand to its Level 4 list of countries with very high levels of COVID-19 on March 7. The CDC bluntly states “Avoid travel to New Zealand.”
While you’re thinking about New Zealand, be sure to read all of our coverage, including: