New Zealand travel restrictions during COVID-19

precautions against coronavirus for new zealand visitors

Temporary entry restrictions have been introduced by the government of New Zealand to control the spread of COVID-19.

New Zealand has placed a ban on most foreign nationals and the country’s border remain largely closed. This means that the majority of travellers who do not hold a valid New Zealand passport are not currently able to enter New Zealand.

Normal New Zealand entry requirements and visa policy will resume and overseas visitors will be welcomed back as soon as it is considered safe to do so.

Travellers from visa waiver countries looking forward to visiting New Zealand after the pandemic can submit their NZeTA application now, ready to use as soon as restrictions are lifted.

Can I travel to New Zealand during COVID-19?

Under the current COVID-19 entry restrictions to NZ, only New Zealand nationals and residents, their children and partners are permitted to enter the island country.

This includes New Zealand’s Realm countries:

  • The Cook Islands
  • Niue
  • Tokelau

Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily residing in New Zealand are also allowed to enter NZ during the outbreak.

Travellers from any other countries aren’t allowed to enter New Zealand at this time unless they have specific grounds for exemption.

Nevertheless, NZeTA applications can still be made by passport holders from visa waiver countries. Although the permit cannot currently be used to travel to New Zealand, the authorisation is valid for 2 years and will be valid for entry after the pandemic.

I already have a NZeTA, is it still valid during COVID-19?

Foreign nationals who already have an eTA for New Zealand will be able to use their existing authorisation once the coronavirus restrictions are eased.

The NZeTA is valid for up to 2 years, or until the passport expires. Provided the permit remains valid, NZeTA holders will be able to travel to New Zealand with their permit as soon as international travel to the county resumes.

It is not possible to cancel an eTA due to coronavirus and it is also not necessary as the authorisation can be used for post-pandemic travel.

Anyone whose NZeTA or passport expires will need to apply for a new authorisation.

I’m still in New Zealand, what should I do if I need to quarantine due to the pandemic?

Foreigners who are in New Zealand and are unable to depart the country must have a valid visa throughout their stay. Travellers who need to quarantine or who have been affected by flight cancellations may risk overstaying their current visa.

Holders of temporary New Zealand visas which will expire before they are able to depart New Zealand can apply for a new COVID-19 short-term visa. The application is made online. Applicants must:

  • Be in New Zealand
  • Have a valid passport
  • Be of good character
  • Have a genuine reason for remaining in New Zealand
  • Be unable to leave New Zealand but plan to do so when possible

Exemptions to coronavirus travel bans in New Zealand

Some exceptions that allow foreign visitors to enter New Zealand despite the presently closed borders include the passengers being:

  • Essential workers
  • Travellers with justified medical reasons
  • Diplomats who hold a post in New Zealand
  • Samoan and Tongan citizens making essential travel which has been agreed to by their government and the New Zealand government
  • Visitors travelling for critical humanitarian purposes

Foreign nationals that comply with these requirements may apply to Immigration New Zealand for an exception to the border closure. They will be asked to prove their need to travel to NZ is critical or otherwise justified.

Travellers entering New Zealand from abroad, regardless of their nationality, must remain in obligatory managed isolation or quarantine for at least 14 days. The visitor must test negative for COVID-19 before they can leave the isolation or quarantine facility and go out into the community.

Transiting through New Zealand during the coronavirus pandemic

The government of New Zealand has announced that transit is only allowed at Auckland International Airport for a maximum of 24 hours. Moreover, all airline crews must wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE.)

Passengers who are allowed to transit through the country include:

  • Citizens of Australia and New Zealand
  • Residents of New Zealand
  • Foreign nationals holding a valid visa or NZeTA issued by New Zealand
  • Passengers with a New Zealand issued transit visa

Transit through New Zealand to China is not permitted at this time.

Do I need to take a COVID-19 test before travelling to New Zealand?

All passengers entering New Zealand or transiting through New Zealand from the United Kingdom or the United States are required to present a medical certificate showing a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result.

The following types of tests are accepted by New Zealand:

  • PCR and RT-PCR tests
  • LAMP tests
  • Antigen tests

The test must have been taken no more than 72 hours before the first scheduled flight. Both hard and electronic copies are accepted.

Exemptions

The following groups of people do not need to present the test certificate when arriving from the US or UK:

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Passengers who transit through the UK or US for no more than 96 hours before departing for New Zealand
  • Passengers who transit New Zealand without leaving the aircraft
  • Diplomatic or consular visa holders
  • Members of the New Zealand Defense force

These rules are subject to change at short notice. Travellers should ensure they have the very latest information before departure.

Flights to New Zealand during COVID-19

After New Zealand closed its borders, a large number of flights into the country were cancelled. Although a small number of incoming flights remain in place for essential travel, most routes to New Zealand have been suspended.

Most airlines with cancelled flights are offering passengers to hold their fare in credit whilst others are granting refunds. Travellers can contact their airline provider or travel agent for more information on how to proceed if this is their case.

How to travel safely to New Zealand during the COVID-19 pandemic

Flights that continue operating to New Zealand have taken several measures to protect their customers and their personnel from catching or spreading COVID-19.

Some of these safety measures include:

  • Physical distancing
  • Providing hand sanitiser
  • Encouraging the use of masks
  • International lounges remain closed
  • Reduced number of seats available per flight
  • Use of HEPA filters in aircraft air conditioning systems
  • Minors are currently not permitted to travel unaccompanied
  • Relocating passengers in order to keep seated people at a safe distance

Quarantine rules for international travellers arriving in New Zealand

International travellers who are exempt from the travel bans are subject to Managed Isolation and quarantine (MIQ) requirements in New Zealand.

Before booking flights, passengers must register with the Managed Isolation System. They will receive a voucher that allocates them a place in an isolation facility. Airlines will not allow passengers to board a flight without a voucher.

All travellers entering New Zealand during the pandemic are required to undergo a 14-day isolation period at their designated hotel.

Coronavirus testing on arrival in New Zealand

Travellers undergo a COVID-19 test on the day of arrival. If the test is negative 14-day managed isolation is carried out. There is a further test on day 3 and a final test towards the end of the period before the individual leaves isolation.

Anyone who tests positive on day 0 will be transferred to a quarantine facility.

Managed isolation upon arrival in New Zealand

People arriving in New Zealand from abroad will be provided with accommodation, basic toiletries, refreshments, and 3 daily meals during their stay in managed isolation. Wi-Fi and laundry services are also available.

Healthcare professionals are working on-site to care for isolated travellers. It is mandatory to wear a mask outside the managed isolation room, or in the presence of someone outside the traveller’s “bubble”.

Leaving the isolation facility is only permitted for outdoor exercise, emergencies, accessing healthcare or if the person needs to be transferred to a different location.

A limited number of exemptions apply for those:

  • Considered a low public health risk
  • Requesting to visit a close family member who is terminally ill
  • Other exceptional circumstances

Families travelling to New Zealand with minors are eligible to enter managed isolation facilities together. The application to join a minor or someone who needs your support for their wellbeing in managed isolation must be submitted well in advance.

What to do if you feel ill while in New Zealand

Travellers feeling unwell during their flight, upon arrival, or during their stay in an isolation facility are asked to contact travel personnel or phone Healthline for free on 0800 358 5453.

How will coronavirus affect travel to New Zealand?

New Zealand’s entry restrictions are undergoing constant review as the situation develops.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with and recovered from COVID-19 will need to be cleared by a doctor and/or the airline’s own medical team, as per the rules of flying with medical conditions to New Zealand.

Foreign visitors currently in New Zealand are encouraged to follow the local government’s advice and follow safety recommendations at all times such as:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Respect social distancing
  • Wear a mask when applicable
  • Avoid large gatherings