Australians will soon find out the date from which they will be allowed to enter New Zealand without having to quarantine – with an announcement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expected this week.
The New Zealand government had previously announced that all Australians would be allowed to enter the country by some time in July.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said “the dates will be moving forward” and Australians would still be first in line to enter the country quarantine-free.
“Australians generally were due to come in July, visa waiver countries as well thereafter,” she told TVNZ.
“We’re looking to bring those forward because we believe we can safely do so.”
The announcement coincided with an all-new ad campaign launched by Tourism New Zealand to entice Australians back across the Tasman.
The country joins a handful of other nearby destinations to which Australians can now travel, including Fiji, Singapore and, most recently, Bali.
Dean Long, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, said whether Australians rush to take up Ms Ardern’s quarantine-free offer will come down to the details of the border reopening.
“The biggest reason why people travel to New Zealand isn’t primarily for leisure – it is visiting friends and relatives,” Mr Long told The New Daily.
“But there are some really critical leisure aspects that work for Australians going to New Zealand, and that’s primarily around their ski season.
“So it is a really important time to open that border for Australians to go and ski in New Zealand.”
The ski season typically lasts from June to mid-October.
New Zealand is one of the few countries still enforcing a strict border regime due to the pandemic.
Under current settings, only Kiwi citizens and “other eligible travellers” can enter the country without quarantining.
In January, Kiwi foreign correspondent Charlotte Bellis made global headlines after she was prevented from returning home while pregnant.
Due to conflicting international visa restrictions for her and her partner, the TV journalist planned on giving birth in Afghanistan, where she had received special permission from the Taliban, until her government responded to public outcry.
Mr Long said this policy – and its reputation – will be a key challenge when the country does eventually reopen.
“New Zealand’s got a lot of work to do in the minds of Australians and the world to regain its place as a top-tier leisure destination, because of the approaches they’ve taken for the last two years,” he said.
“It’s going to take some work.”