New Zealand will gradually re-open its border from early next year but not before Christmas.

Reinstatement of the border bubble with Australia by Christmas has been ruled out by New Zealand after the country released its latest plan to reopen to the rest of the world, which will see short-term visitors from Australia locked out until the end of April.

New Zealand’s Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) program will cease for various arrivals from 16 January 2022, with fully vaccinated Kiwis and residents only able to return home from Australia as their point of origin without spending 14 days in MIQ. The next step will see travellers of the same designation but whose travel originates from all countries able to re-enter New Zealand from 13 February.

Fully vaccinated arrivals from any country will be able to enter New Zealand from 30 April 2022, however everybody will still need to spend the first seven days in home isolation, regardless of the purpose of their visit. Arrivals will also need a pre-departure negative COVID test, proof of vaccination, travel history declaration and a final test before emerging from home isolation.

New Zealand border reopening
Novotel Auckland Airport has been acting as a quarantine facility for New Zealand.

The new rules will align with the implementation of the country’s new traffic light system announced in August, where arrivals will be allocated a colour rating based on their point of origin.

New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins, said the country had a clear, simple and safe plan which will align with the lifting of internal borders and restrictions.

“We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare,” Minister Hipkins said.

“It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality.

New Zealand border reopening
Returning fully vaccinated Kiwis will be welcomed back from mid-January but only if originating from Australia.

“We always said we’d open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days. Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.

Hipkins said further details on how self-isolation is to be managed will be made next month, which will include guidance on how travellers can make their way from the airport to their place of isolation in the most expeditious manner, along with how this time will be overseen.

New Zealand is developing its own digital Traveller Health Declaration System (THDS) which is expected to be operational by March 2022. International vaccination certificates will play a big part in how air travel to the country will be managed, with officers from Immigration New Zealand to be deployed on the ground in a number of countries to help facilitate support and compliance checks.