New Zealand is rolling out the welcome mat to all international travellers from June 21, dropping its pre-arrival testing requirements and allowing unvaccinated travellers to enter quarantine-free for the first time since the pandemic began.
This replaces the current rule requiring arrivals to return a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antigen test (RAT) within 24-48 hours of travel.
Visitors will still need to take two rapid antigen tests after landing though, while a mask mandate also remains in place for certain indoor settings, including retail and on public transport.
The change comes just in time for the Kiwi ski season, which officially kicks off on the South Island this week. Adding to the joy, Queenstown received its biggest snowfall in years over the weekend, with surrounding mountains blanketed in over 1.5m of snow in places.
New Zealand’s Covid-19 Minister Ayesha Verrall confirmed the change on Thursday, much to the delight of travellers, saying the government believed “the challenges pre-departure tests pose to visitors are now no longer outweighed by the public health benefits.”
Anticipating the surge in demand for trans-Tasman travel, Qantas has already ramped up its schedules from Sydney and Melbourne to Auckland and Christchurch, with direct flights into Queenstown also set to return this week.
Air New Zealand has more than 500 return flights between Australia and New Zealand scheduled in June, with the figure set to dramatically increase come July when services into Queenstown, Hobart, Adelaide and Cairns restart.
Virgin Australia remains a hold-out on the trans-Tasman route for now, with the airline planning to return to the ‘land of the long white cloud’ from November.