A holiday to New Zealand is now within reach for Australians, with Monday marking the opening of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.
The first quarantine-free passenger flight from Australia is scheduled to land in Auckland at 11.20am local time (9.20am Australian time). Passengers on the Jetstar service will be greeted with an official welcome.
The bubble arrangement allows Australians and New Zealanders to travel between both countries without needing to apply for an exemption or undergo 14 days’ quarantine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the opening of the bubble was a milestone and a win for both countries.
“[It is] a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe and just in time for Anzac Day,” Mr Morrison said.
“Both countries have done a remarkable job in protecting our communities from COVID and two-way flights are an important step in our road out.”
The government is in no rush to extend quarantine-free travel beyond New Zealand, with Mr Morrison telling reporters on Sunday that issues around borders and how they are managed must be handled very carefully.
“But the idea on one day that everything just opens, that is not how this will happen,” he said.
Before you fly across the ditch, here’s what you need to know.
What happens if there is an outbreak while I’m travelling?
Flights may be suspended, depending on the level of risk.
If there is a COVID-19 case in Australia, NZ will work on a traffic light system with three possible responses concerning flights and border closures. These will be ‘Continue’, ‘Pause’ and ‘Stop’.
- To see the latest NZ government updates about the travel bubble, click here
For example, if a case is clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and the cluster is contained, travel will likely continue as normal.
But if a case is not clearly linked to a border worker, and a state introduces a snap lockdown in response, it is likely flights from that state would be paused.
If multiple cases of unknown origin are detected, it’s likely New Zealand or Australia would temporarily suspend flights.
If there is an outbreak, will I need to quarantine?
Quarantine-free travel could be paused at any time.
What do I need to do before flying to New Zealand?
- Fill out an online New Zealand Travel Declaration before you get on the plane. When you return to Australia, you’ll need to fill in an online Australian Travel Declaration
- Check the Smart Traveller website for the latest travel information
- Download the NZ COVID Tracer app, so you can check into businesses, services and events all across New Zealand. This app assists with fast and easy contract tracing in the event of an outbreak
- Turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app so it can anonymously log the phones you have been near and alert you if you have been close to a positive COVID-19 case
- Self-isolate and call the NZ Healthline on 0800 611 116 for advice if you feel unwell at any time
- Practise good hygiene.
What do I need to do before flying from NZ to Australia?
- Complete the Australian Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your arrival into Australia
- Register at SafeTravel for the latest travel updates
- Check the health department website of each state you’re travelling to for the most up-to-date information and COVID-19 rules.
Do I have to wear a face mask during my flight?
Face masks are mandatory when you are in an Australian airport and on board international and domestic flights.
Masks are not required for children under 12 years of age, or for those with a medical condition who have an official medical certificate.
New Zealand differs from Australia by having a four-level alert system that requires specific actions depending on the level of COVID risk.
At the moment, the system is at Alert Level 1, meaning face masks are mandatory on public transport, on domestic flights, and for taxi and ride-share drivers.
It is currently not mandatory to wear a face mask in an airport terminal in NZ, but it is strongly encouraged.
Am I eligible to travel under the bubble arrangement?
Yes, as long as you have spent the previous 14 days in either Australia or NZ.
This does not mean you are required to stay for 14 days once you arrive at your destination.
You are not allowed to travel if:
- You are waiting for COVID-19 test results
- You received a positive test in the previous 14 days
- You are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
Normal immigration, customs and biosecurity rules still apply.
Travellers from Australia who are citizens of other countries may need to apply for a visa.
Do I need to apply for an outward travel exemption?
No, you don’t need an exemption to fly to NZ.
Can I travel to another country after NZ?
Unlike Australia, people in NZ are allowed to travel overseas without an exemption from the government.
This has unwittingly created a loophole for Australians who want to fly to a third country like India.
If you want to circumvent the Morrison government’s international travel ban, you can technically fly to NZ then book a new, separate flight for your onward journey.
If you plan to transit directly via NZ, you will need an outward travel exemption from the Australian government.
“Currently, New Zealand does not prevent Australian citizens leaving New Zealand and travelling onwards overseas,” a spokesperson from Australian Border Force said in a statement to The New Daily.
“However anyone arriving into Australia or New Zealand from any other country must enter into quarantine or mandatory isolation as directed by the relevant government departments and health authorities.”
The spokesperson warned Australians who travel onwards from NZ to another international destination may struggle to find a return flight home.
Returning travellers must present a negative coronavirus test up to 72 hours prior to departure, and undertake 14 days’ mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Do I need to have a vaccine passport?
You don’t need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus to go to NZ.
However, Air New Zealand has announced it will trial a digital vaccination passport on flights between Auckland and Sydney from April.
The trial of the Travel Pass app, developed by the International Air Transport Association, will allow travellers to create a ‘digital health wallet’ linked to their passport.
Once passengers have been tested or vaccinated, the lab can securely send that information to the app, which is then cross-checked against the travel requirements for the country they hoped to visit.