New Zealand is back! Kiwi borders reopen to UK travellers New Zealand is back! Kiwi borders reopen to UK travellers

After more than two years of closure, the country is now welcoming back fully vaccinated visitors from visa waiver countries, including the UK and USA!
01 May 2022

After more than two years, New Zealand has officially reopened its borders to travellers from the UK and USA.

The first Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles to Auckland airport is expected to land at 5:45am on 2 May, a moment of much excitement and anticipation.

New Zealand is a firm favourite with Wanderlust readers, having won the annual Wanderlust Travel Awards more than any other country. So, this news is particularly welcome.

Fully-vaccinated travellers from designated visa waiver countries can travel to Aotearoa (New Zealand) from 11:59pm on 1 May 2022 without needing to isolate on arrival, on provision of a negative pre-departure test. Negative Rapid Antigen Tests [RAT] will be required on arrival and on day 5/6. 

The country’s five-stage reopening (see dates below) started on 27 February, allowing fully vaccinated New Zealand residents to return home from Australia without needing to undergo monitored quarantine.

Travellers from Australia have also been able to visit since the 12 April.

Chris Hipkins, NZ’s COVID-19 response minister announced: “We are able to take these decisions because we have a highly vaccinated population and good public health restrictions through the COVID-19 Protection Framework in place”. 

The requirement for all arrivals to self-isolate for 10 days has also been removed from the plan.

The country had its borders firmly closed since March 2020 in efforts to keep out coronavirus. By implementing a tough border policy, New Zealand has had some of lowest numbers of COVID-19 cases in world, with just over 50 deaths.


Auckland, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

The only way Kiwis were previously able to enter was through quarantine at their own expense, however, there had not been sufficient quarantine facilities for the number of people attempting to return.

The country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern said in her original announcement: “There is no question that for New Zealand, it (the tough border controls) has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic. But the reason that it is right up there as one of the toughest things we have experienced is, in part, because large-scale loss of life is not.

“There was life before, and now life with COVID, but that also means there will be life after COVID too, a life where we have adapted, where we have some normality back.”

Arden continued: “With Omicron’s arrival, we pushed that change in border settings out – to give ourselves the chance to roll out boosters – a chance most other countries never had.”

“With our community better protected we must turn to the importance of reconnection. Families and friends need to reunite. Our businesses need skills to grow. Exporters need to travel to make new connections.

Road along Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand (Shutterstock)

New Zealand’s five-stage opening plan:

Stage one: 27 February – Fully vaccinated New Zealanders can return from Australia without quarantine OR self-isolation.

Stage two: 4 March (previously 13 March) – Borders open for fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens arriving from around the world. Some fully vaccinated skilled workers and backpackers will also be able to enter without quarantine.

Stage three: 12 April – 5,000 international students will be allowed to enter New Zealand.

Stage four: On 1 May, New Zealand expects to open borders for non-citizens from visa-wavier countries such as Australia, the UK and the USA.

Stage five: July is when New Zealand plans to welcome back travellers from across the world.

Find out more information about the border reopening plan

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