Fortress New Zealand crumbles: Jacinda Ardern allows ALL Kiwis to come home without self-isolation from Thursday – but tourists could still be locked out until OCTOBER
New Zealanders will finally be able to freely come and go from their island fortress in just a few days with the borders finally opening just a crack.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced on Monday there will be no required quarantine for vaccinated New Zealanders returning home from March 3.
Kiwis stuck in Australia through the Covid pandemic have finally been able to get back home after being locked out for months.
The first 910 passengers from five Australia-New Zealand flights were reunited with tearful families at Auckland Airport on Monday morning.
Families waited at Auckland airport for loved ones to arrive home from Australia after New Zealand opened its borders on Monday
910 passengers from five Australia-New Zealand flights reunited with tearful families at Auckland airport
Arrivals from Monday were required to complete seven days quarantine before boarding their flights ahead of quarantine-free travel set to be introduced on Thursday
Kiwis in Australia could already return to New Zealand without quarantine from Monday, February 28, as part of NZ’s staggered opening scheme.
Travellers from the rest of the world were required to complete seven days of self-isolation, but that will be scrapped from Thursday for all countries of arrival.
New Zealand created a five step plan for reopening its borders, with Monday’s announcement marking an acceleration of step two.
The first international flight since New Zealand opened its borders to fully vaccinated Kiwis arrived at Auckland Airport on Monday
Signs were given to friends and family waiting to be reunited with their loved ones from Australia
Teary families were reunited as New Zealand announced an early entrance into step two of its border opening plan
Loved ones were finally able to reunite on Monday after New Zealand’s strict border policy closed the country off for two years
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the change allowed Kiwis to immediately reconnect with their loved ones.
‘Cabinet has agreed to lift all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand,’ he said.
‘That means that all Kiwis coming home and tourists entering the country will be able to step off the plane and immediately connect with family and friends and enjoy all New Zealand has to offer.’
Quarantine-free travel had initially been planned for March 13 but Ms Ardern said high cases in NZ meant the date could be brought forward.
‘We’ve wanted to make sure that we’re carefully easing up the border so that we don’t over-burden our health system, but with so many cases in New Zealand now, it makes sense to look at those settings,’ she said.
Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand existed briefly in 2021 before the Omicron outbreak forced Kiwis to lock their borders.
Auckland Airport welcomed Kiwis back to New Zealand as family waited to see each other
International travellers completed seven days quarantine prior to arriving in New Zealand
Vaccinated tourists from all other countries will be allowed to visit New Zealand from October
International travellers are required to complete a pre-departure and arrival rapid antigen test as well as a test on day five/six after their arrival.
Unvaccinated travellers to New Zealand will still be required to undergo a period in a Managed Isolation and Quarantine facility.
Vaccinated tourists from all other countries were set to be allowed to visit New Zealand from October but the government indicated that date could also be brought forward.
The announcement comes as New Zealand moves away from its much-maligned zero-Covid strategy and eases restrictions despite high case numbers.
On Sunday, the country recorded 14,633 new cases and 344 people receiving treatment in hospital.
New Zealand’s ever-changing five-step opening plan
Who is eligible to enter NZ during border restrictions
- You can enter NZ while the border is restricted if you are:
- an NZ citizen
- an NZ permanent resident or resident visa holder
- an Australian citizen or permanent residence visa holder where NZ is your primary place of residence
- people with border exceptions or a critical purpose reason to travel
- a partner, dependent child, or parent of a dependent child who either: holds a visa based on their relationship to an NZ citizen or resident is travelling with a New Zealander or resident, or is ordinarily resident in NZ.
Step 1 — from 11.59pm on February 27
The border opens to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers coming from Australia to travel here and self-isolate on arrival.
If you arrive on or after 11.59 pm on March 2 you can enter without needing to isolate.
This means you can enter New Zealand if you:
- are an NZ citizen, resident or otherwise eligible to enter NZ while the border is restricted
- are fully vaccinated
- have spent the previous 14 days in Australia or NZ
- have had the pre-departure tests you need.
Step 2 — from 11.59 pm on March 2
The border opens to New Zealanders and other eligible travellers coming from anywhere in the world. You do not need to self-isolate when you arrive.
This means you can travel to New Zealand isolation-free if you:
- are eligible to enter the border while it is restricted, including if you have a border exception
- meet health requirements, including being fully vaccinated and getting pre-departure tests.
From 11.59pm on March 13
You can apply for some working holiday schemes. We are reopening them on a rolling basis and the time for individual schemes will be confirmed.
If you are a skilled worker it may be easier to be granted an ‘other critical worker’ border exception.
Step 3 — from 11.59pm on April 12
The border reopens to:
- temporary work and student visa holders currently outside New Zealand as long as they still meet their visa requirements
- temporary work and student visa holders currently inside New Zealand to leave at any time and return from step 3 (where their visa conditions allow).
Up to 5000 international students can apply for a border exception to enter New Zealand. We hope most students can travel here in time to start studying in July. We will provide more details about eligibility and how to apply.
Workforce class exceptions and events, and government approved programme lists, will be extended and updated. Applications for border exceptions under these class exceptions will open or be extended.
We will provide more details about the scope of new border exceptions and updates to exceptions and government approved lists.
Step 4 — from July 2022
Our borders will open to:
- Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and other foreign nationals travelling from Australia
- visitors from visa-waiver countries
- Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders
- temporary visitor visa holders who are outside New Zealand, as long as they meet their visa requirements.
If you have a temporary visitor visa and you are currently in New Zealand you can leave any time and return as long as your visa conditions allow you to. This includes if you have a guardian visa.
Step 5 — from October 2022
The border opens for all other New Zealand visa holders, including visitor and student visas, unless the visa is closed or paused.
Applications for all New Zealand visas will reopen, unless the visa is closed or paused.
Source: Immigration New Zealand