New Zealand doesn't expect the trans-Tasman bubble with Australia to resume any time soon – and when it does return, travellers can expect far more stringent rules than those of the relatively short-lived Bubble 1.0, which ran from April to July.
Although Australia-New Zealand flights were paused for eight weeks, with the bubble to be re-evaluated this month, NZ Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins now says it would be "unrealistic to expect that there'll be speedy decisions in the next few weeks."
Hipkins has previously said the country would "not necessarily" rule out opening to individual states rather than Australia as a whole.
However, with New Zealand now battling a surge of Covid-19's Delta variant, Hipkins last week told the NZ parliament that the Government's "reopening" plan to allow international travel would need to be completely reworked in the light of this new outbreak.
"It would be fair to say that Delta has actually changed some of the thinking about that, even in the last few weeks," he reflected.
Qantas is now selling flights between Australia and New Zealand from December 18 as part of its international restart "on the assumption some or all parts of the two-way bubble will restart."
However, the relatively hassle-free approach of the original trans-Tasman bubble and the pre-Covid days are likely to be a thing of the past, suggests Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.
"The reason I make that distinction is that a bubble makes it quite a seamless experience for a customer," Foran noted last week.
"You're not having to do a pre-departure test. You're not having to prove you've been vaccinated."
"I do think that we (will) open up to Australia, but in all likelihood we may end up operating Australia like we do with many countries when we feel travel is safe," Foran told The Australian.
"I can imagine you're probably going to have to be vaccinated. You're probably going to have to do a pre-departure test. You're probably going to have to do a test on the way home, and you're probably going to have to do a test when you arrive back in the country.”