New Zealand has issued a big 'Kia Ora' once again to the world after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared the country would reopen to travellers worldwide from 11:59pm on July 31, 2022.
The reopening of the ‘land of the long white cloud’ comes two months ahead of schedule and builds on the April reinstatement of the travel bubble with Australia.
From this time, all pre-departure testing requirements will be dropped. New Zealand will require all travellers to be fully vaccinated and to be carrying proof. A travel declaration is also a requirement.
"Today’s announcement means it’s full steam ahead for the industry who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond," said New Zealand Tourism Minister, Stuart Nash.
Airlines ready for the rush
Flight schedules have already been ramped up to meet demand, with Qantas and Jetstar boosting their services to 30 return flights a week, and Air New Zealand adding 96 trans-Tasman flights for April through to June.
The country is also hosting new air routes, recently welcoming the maiden service between Adelaide and Auckland on Qatar Airways, with those at the pointy end of the Gulf carrier’s Boeing 777 enjoying its superb Qsuites – spacious, well-appointed cribs with sliding doors for privacy.
Qatar's newest partner, Virgin Australia is continuing to delay its return to the once-popular route, with flights from Brisbane to Queenstown still earmarked to resume in November.
Australia and New Zealand have long been each other’s number one travel destination: 2019 saw some 2.6 million residents of each country jetting back and forth across the Tasman, according to Stats NZ.
However, visitors to New Zealand will also be paying slightly more for their tickets, with the country’s Border Processing Levy having risen during the pandemic closure from NZ$20 per airline passenger return trip to NZ$43, with passengers arriving on cruise ships to be charged NZ$36.
The higher charges are expected to be passed on by airlines and cruise companies in the form of increased ticket costs.
Air New Zealand extends Qantas, Virgin status match
Successful applicants for AirNZ's Touch of Gold status match will finally be able to take the necessary Air New Zealand flights to lock in their Airpoints Gold (and Star Alliance Gold) status for a full year, after the Kiwi carrier extended the qualification period to June 30, 2022 – over a year since the offer itself was launched.
“Since the start of the Touch of Gold promotion there have been a number of travel interruptions caused by Covid-19,” the airline says, noting “this may have prevented you from earning the required Status Points to move to full Airpoints Gold.”
“You will now have until 30 June 2022 to continue to enjoy your Gold benefits and earn towards the required 100 Status Points through Air New Zealand travel.”