Unlocking the World

Travel to New Zealand during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 13th September 2021
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Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on September 13.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to New Zealand, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The basics

New Zealand has been a poster child for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures mean it has suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.
However, the country is now working hard to contain a recent outbreak of the Delta variant. There have been a record 1,035 cases in the past month, according to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center, and one Covid-related death -- the first since mid-February.
Auckland, the country's largest city, is currently on a level 4 lockdown -- New Zealand's highest alert level -- while the rest of the country is at alert level 2.
It will likely be quite a while before most international travelers are allowed to visit.

What's on offer

New Zealand's landscape is the stuff of legend. Arthur's Pass National Park, with its soaring peaks and deep valleys is ripe for "tramping," the locals' term for a good, long hike. Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach offer vast sea views from the tip of North Island. Meanwhile, indigenous Maori culture permeates every aspect of the country. Pick up an RV and it's easy to find an empty corner of this magical country to explore.

Who can go

The rules are simple. Other than a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers, only New Zealand residents and citizens are allowed into the country without first requesting to travel.
Any other travel into the country must be for a critical purpose and admission must be obtained first. You can find out more about border entry requirements here.
New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travelers from India, including New Zealand citizens.
The country's two-way travel bubble with Australia was suspended in July. As Australia is tackling an outbreak of its own, New Zealand's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said on September 8 that it would be be "unrealistic to expect that there'll be speedy decisions in the next few weeks."
Travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands is paused until at least September 14, but quarantine-free travel is allowed from the Cook Islands into New Zealand. A one-way travel bubble from the Pacific Island of Niue also remains in place.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in August that the country would open its doors to vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries from early 2022.
According to a New Zealand government statement, under the new system, vaccinated travelers coming from high-risk countries would still have to quarantine in a managed facility for 14 days, but those from medium-risk countries could have reduced quarantine, or be allowed to self-isolate, while those from low risk countries would be allowed in without having to quarantine.
New Zealand has not yet announced which countries which be classified as low, medium or high risk.

Entry requirements

All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.
All arrivals must book their place in a managed isolation and quarantine facility prior to travel, and a voucher confirming that a space has been booked must be presented before boarding. Availability is currently extremely limited.
Travelers coming from the United Kingdom or United States must also have a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their flight.

US CDC Travel Advisory:

Level 1: Low. You should be fully vaccinated before traveling.

Useful links

Our recent coverage

When English artist Tom Napper got stranded in New Zealand during lockdown, he used the time to make a series of artworks illustrating the places he visited on his bike tour around the country.
Earlier this year, CNN Travel took a deep dive into cheese rolls: a humble snack that has become a signature New Zealand food.