New Zealand reopened its international borders to travellers from visa waiver countries after almost 800 days.
The visa waiver allows passport holders and permanent residents from 60 countries and territories to travel to New Zealand without having to apply for a visa.
However, travellers from the visa waiver countries must hold an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority).
The 60 visa waiver countries include:
- Czech Republic;
- Estonia (citizens only);
- Hong Kong (residents with HKSAR or British National–Overseas passports only);
- South Korea;
- Latvia (citizens only);
- Lithuania (citizens only);
- Macau (only if travellers have a Macau Special Administrative Region passport);
- Portugal (if travellers have the right to live permanently in Portugal);
- San Marino;
- Saudi Arabia;
- Slovak Republic;
- Taiwan (if travellers are permanent residents);
- United Arab Emirates;
- United Kingdom (UK) (if travellers are travelling on a UK or British passport that shows permanent residency in the UK);
- United States of America (USA);
- Vatican City.
Travellers from these countries will be able to travel to New Zealand without isolation if they are fully vaccinated.
Two flights from the United States arrived at Auckland Airport to mark a milestone for travel from the Northern Hemisphere as travellers and returnees emerged from the international terminal.
Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer, said the flights to New Zealand were fully booked with visitors and returning Kiwis.
She said people were thrilled to be able to travel to New Zealand again to reconnect with their families, build their businesses or start their studies.
Ms. Geraghty also revealed the demand from visa-waiver countries had exceeded expectations, and many flight services had been filled up.
This bears welcome news for New Zealand’s tourism industry, which has suffered significantly over the last 767 days due to border closures and travel restrictions.
New Zealand’s Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said online searches for flights to the country were running 19 per cent higher than in 2018-19.
He hailed New Zealand as a safe country to visit, and the return of travellers was a big moment in reconnecting with the rest of the world.
New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the federal government would continue reviewing the reconnecting strategy to try and bring forward the plan to open borders fully to the rest of the world.