New Zealand has cautiously reopened its travel bubble to a handful of Australian states, but with the new requirement of a pre-departure COVID-19 test which costs $150 per passenger – even for travellers who've already been fully vaccinated.
The Australia-New Zealand travel bubble opened on April 19 2021 without the need for quarantine or COVID testing, but was paused on June 26 in response to a growing number of cases being reported across Australia.
New Zealand has now lifted the travel ban for passengers from Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, on the proviso that they have not visited a COVID-19 exposure site or 'hot spot' in the 14 days before their flight.
They must also have not been in NSW after 11.59pm (NZ time) on June 22; or Queensland, the Northern Territory or Western Australia since 10.30pm (NZ time) on June 26.
Travel from Western Australia and the NT will resume at 11:59pm (NZT) on July 9, although the 'travel pause' with New South Wales and Queensland remains in place as of July 6.
However, New Zealand's Ministry of Health now says that all travellers eligible to fly to New Zealand must take a pre-departure PCR or RT-PCR test within 72 hours of their departure and return a negative result before they'll be allowed to board their flight.
No exemption is made for people who have received their COVID-19 vaccination.
"The Government has been monitoring overseas developments and is concerned about high rates of infection and new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly," explains the NZ government's Unite Against COVID-19 website.
"Pre-departure tests reduce the risk of infected travellers on international flights infecting other travellers."
"You need to have both your COVID-19 sample taken and your result returned no more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure time of your first international departure."
Free community testing stations don't qualify for the necessary tests: "pre-departure testing and result certificates for travel clearance are provided by private pathology clinics."
These tests typically cost $150 per person – sometimes with same-day turnaround of the results carrying an additional surcharge (at least one pathology chain charges an extra $150 for this) – and do not qualify for a Medicare rebate.
For further information, including recognised test centres in Australia, travellers should consult the Unite Against COVID-19 website.