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

CNN logo CNN 5/2/2022 CNN Staff
a large waterfall over a body of water with a mountain in the background: New Zealand's landscapes, such as that at Milford Sound, are unforgettable. © Colin Monteath/age fotostock New Zealand's landscapes, such as that at Milford Sound, are unforgettable.

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 was a poster child early on for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures meant it suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.

Its zero-Covid strategy made it one of the world's most closed-off nations, but this started to change as the country moved to a new policy focused on vaccination efforts and living with the virus.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined a five-step reopening plan. From May 1, fully vaccinated people from Australia or visa waiver countries -- including the United Kingdom, the United States, and many European nations -- are allowed to enter New Zealand and self-test on arrival.

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 border is currently open to New Zealand citizens and residents, citizens' partners and dependents, visa holders, international students, and vaccinated travelers from 60 visa waiver countries. You can find out more about border entry requirements here.

Most foreign nationals entering New Zealand need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Air New Zealand, the country's flag carrier airline, has also announced that passengers on its international flights need to be fully vaccinated.

Entry requirements

Most non-New Zealand citizens must meet the country's vaccination requirements before entering New Zealand by air, although exceptions are made for children under 16, the medically exempt, and for refugees. Find out more here.

The remaining key stages on New Zealand's reopening plan are:

From July, vaccinated travelers arriving under the Accredited Employer Work Visa categories will be able to enter New Zealand and self-test on arrival.

By October, all visa categories will reopen, including visitor and student visas.

For more information, look at the plan on the government website.

US CDC Travel Advisory:

Level 3: High. Make sure you are up to date with your Covid-19 vaccinations before traveling to New Zealand.

Useful links

Government site on border closures

Booking site for self-isolation facilities

NZ COVID Tracer app

Our recent coverage

New Zealand scientists recently discovered a "very rare" baby ghost shark on the ocean floor off the east coast of the South Island, just months after the country's coveted Bird of the Year award went to a bat.

And for fans of New Zealand's famous grapes, the world's first "winery airline" is set to launch a route between Auckland and Queenstown later this year.

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