Australia and New Zealand to open ‘travel bubble’

Unrestricted travel across the Tasman Sea will begin on 19 April

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 06 April 2021 06:53 BST
Opening up: Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island
Opening up: Queenstown in New Zealand’s South Island (Simon Calder)

After more than a year of being unable to leave their home country, Australians will soon be able to visit New Zealand to visit family or go on holiday.

Travel across the Tasman Sea will be permitted for non-essential purposes from 11.59pm on 18 April, effectively making the following day the first on which most Australians will be able to travel overseas.

Both countries closed to their borders to most arrivals in March 2020.

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, described the move as “world leading”

She told a news conference in Wellington: “This is an exciting day. The trans-Tasman bubble represents the start of a new chapter in our Covid response and recovery – one that people have worked so hard for.”

Read more:

On 21 March Australia’s health minister, Greg Hunt, eased restrictions to allow citizens or permanent residents to travel direct to New Zealand if they have been in no other country for at least two weeks before departure.

But at present there are strict quarantine rules on arrival in New Zealand. These will shortly be lifted.

No quarantine will apply in either direction. Passengers and crew will be allowed on flights betweenAustralia and New Zealand only if they have not travelled recently to other countries. They will use special channels at airports to keep them separate from other international arrivals.

New Zealanders are already allowed to travel to Australia, but currently have to quarantine when they return home. That requirement will also end.

Qantas, the main Australian airline, and its budget offshoot, will fly around 17 flights a day between Australia and NZ from 19 April. This compares with around 21 daily departures in 2019.

If a particular Australian state has an outbreak of Covid cases, flights to and from New Zealand will be temporarily suspended.

Ms Ardern said: “We simply don’t know how many travellers in the early days will take up the opportunity.” But she estimated that tourism could return to 80 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of the year. 

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in