New Zealand Visits to NZ back within weeks, as borders open

Visits to NZ back within weeks, as borders open

nz borders reopen
New Zealand holidays and reunions with family and friends will be back for Australians from mid-April. Photo: Getty
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Australians will be able to visit friends and family across the ditch – and book trans-Tasman holidays – with New Zealand announcing it will reopen its border earlier than planned.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the much-anticipated announcement on Wednesday that her nation’s borders would open to Australian travellers from April 13.

New Zealand has held firm to tight border restrictions since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, with entry to the country largely off limits for two years.

Under Ms Ardern’s most recent plan, NZ was meant to stay off-limits to most Australians until July.

However, the arrival of the infectious Omicron variant – which has sent local cases skyrocketing – has lessened the need for a wall to keep the virus out.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said Wednesday’s announcement was the most exciting moment for the industry in two years.

“We are ready to roll out the green and gold carpet … we have missed you,” he said.

Currently, only Kiwis, regular residents and some critical workers are able to enter NZ without spending a week in quarantine.

That will change from 11.59pm on April 12, when vaccinated Australians can travel without needing to plan for isolation.

Travellers from visa waiver countries and valid visa will follow from 11.59pm on May 1.

“We have now received guidance that it is safe to significantly bring forward the next stage of border reopening work,” Ms Ardern said.

She said the border plan wouldn’t change any further – a statement that was music to the ears of the decimated tourism industry.

Trans-Tasman businessman Quentin Nolan is one of many eager to see a reopening schedule stick.

He is the man behind Snow Machine, a Queenstown music festival that brings big-name Australian acts such as The Avalanches and The Presets to NZ for a winter party on snow.

The inaugural festival was postponed last year when the trans-Tasman bubble was suspended, and then cancelled when it became clear the bubble wasn’t returning in 2021.

“It’s something we’ve been planning for a number of years … and we had to refund everyone, which was pretty brutal. We did take a serious hit,” Mr Nolan said.

He is determined to plug on in 2022, bringing a popular northern hemisphere concept to NZ’s hard-hit ski town.

“It’s pretty brutal. There’s more vacant shops in Queenstown than I’ve ever seen. So many businesses have gone broke in the past six months,” he said.

“People are starting to get a little bit of confidence back for this coming winter.

“An April opening would be great for confidence. To see people travelling back without an issue, that’s gonna make people feel somewhat comfortable about returning.”

Tourism Industry Aotearoa spokeswoman Ann-Marie Johnson said many left standing after the pandemic were battle-scarred after two years of intermittent and largely domestic trading.

“We are marking the second anniversary of the closure of New Zealand’s borders this week,” Ms Johnson said.

“That is 730 days of pain for small and large tourism businesses throughout the motu (country).”

-with AAP