Australia-New Zealand travel bubble
A constantly updated guide on trans-Tasman travel – which resumes on 16 October 2020.
Updated . What changed?
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As restrictions continue to ease across the nation, New Zealand has become the first international country to form a travel bubble with Australia.
The bubble currently allows people from New Zealand to visit all Aussie states and territories except Western Australia without the need for quarantine. For the moment this is a one-way travel agreement.
But there is hope for a full, two-way travel bubble in the future. On 14 December, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden agreed to establish quarantine-free travel between both nations in early 2021. This is on the condition that COVID-19 levels stay low. In other words, Australia would have to be community transmission free for 28 days.
"It is our intention to name a date for the commencement of a trans-Tasman quarantine free travel in the new year, once remaining details are locked down," said Ardern.
Here's what else we know about the Australia-New Zealand bubble.
What's in this guide?
- When will the Australia-New Zealand bubble open?
- What rules and restrictions will be in place?
- Which airlines offer flights between Australia and New Zealand?
- Can I still earn frequent flyer points?
- Can I get travel insurance for coronavirus?
- How much will travel to New Zealand cost?
- Who will enter the bubble nexts?
- What to do in New Zealand
When will the Australia-New Zealand bubble open?
The Australian-New Zealand travel bubble opened on 16 October. However, this only lets New Zealand citizens and residents to visit New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Due to New Zealanders continuing their journey into South Australia, that state has also decided to open up its borders to Kiwis on 20 October. Since then the ACT and Victoria have also opened their borders to New Zealanders.
While New Zealanders are free to travel into these specific states and territories, Australians still cannot visit New Zealand quarantine-free.
That will likely come in early 2021 as long as Australia's community transmission levels remain low. "We will not open the borders for quarantine-free travel within Australia until it is safe to do so because doing it too early risks losing all of the freedoms that we already have in our country," Ardern said on 2 October.
From 7 January, New Zealanders can travel to Queensland without the need to quarantine. Again, this is a one-way agreement.
More to come.
What rules and restrictions will be in place?
The rules around the current opening are simple. Only New Zealanders and New Zealand residents may travel to Australia and when they do, they'll be limited to travelling around all states and territories except Western Australia.
All travellers must not have been in a COVID-19 hotspot for 14 days prior to their trip. If they have, they may be forced into quarantine when they arrive in Australia.
Which airlines offer flights between Australia and New Zealand?
Only a limited number of airlines are offering trans-Tasman flights out of Auckland Airport. This may change now that borders are starting to reopen. As of 6 January 2021, these routes are available:
- Air New Zealand: Sydney-Auckland, Brisbane-Auckland, Melbourne-Auckland and Auckland-Brisbane.
- Qantas: Auckland-Sydney
- ANA: Sydney-Auckland.
- Singapore Airlines: Brisbane-Auckland, Melbourne-Auckland and Sydney-Auckland.
- Virgin Atlantic: Melbourne-Auckland, Sydney-Auckland
- Thai Airways: Sydney-Auckland
These flights are running on a limited schedule.
Queenstown, Christchurch and Wellington Airports are serving domestic routes only.
As the trans-Tasman bubble develops, we're anticipating the return of routes with Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia, though this may not be until two-way travel is available with a Virgin Australia spokesman stating that: "The trans-Tasman travel zone announced by the Federal Government is a welcomed first step and will help the aviation sector to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We are however commercially reliant on two-way passenger traffic, therefore our approach to reintroducing services between Australia and New Zealand will ultimately be driven by customer demand".
We'll update this list as routes return.
Can I still earn frequent flyer points?
Yes. All flights booked and flown still earn you frequent flyer points. You can also still use points for future bookings. If you do, it's worth looking into flexible flight options in case your flight needs to be rescheduled.
Can I get travel insurance for coronavirus?
While most policies now exclude coronavirus-related claims such as flight cancellations, there are a few insurers that will cover your medical expenses if you contract the virus overseas.
To cover your booking-related expenses, your best bet right now is to look out for flexible booking options.
As a result of the pandemic, numerous airlines, hotels, online travel agents and cruise lines have established fee-free cancellation and change policies. These allow you to cancel your plans without penalty or postpone them to a later date – again, without penalty.
As the travel bubble increases, we may see insurance policies change to incorporate COVID-19 related claims.
We'll update this page as details come in.
How much will travel to New Zealand cost?
When travel completely resumes, it's anyone's guess which way the cost of flights will go. It could become cheaper in order to drive up tourism, or it could become more expensive to make up for the economic losses due to COVID-19.
Qantas chief executive officer and managing director Alan Joyce believes that cheaper flights are more likely. On 30 April he wrote on LinkedIn: "Airlines will be keen to stimulate travel demand to get their people and aircraft back to work and restart their cashflow pipelines, repairing the damage done by the devastating and sudden drop in revenue. That's good news for consumers because it means plenty of good deals."
It helps that budget options to New Zealand are available with Jetstar flying to Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown. Its services to those cities are grounded for the moment but it has given no indication they won't resume when possible.
Once in New Zealand, you can expect it to not hurt your hip pocket too much. Over the past months, the Australia-New Zealand rate has nudged up. In September, the AUD/NZD rate met a low of 1.074 and a high of 1.093 and finished at 1.061. That is, AUD$1 was equal to NZD$1.082. You can see the latest exchange rates below and read more details here.
Historical rate chart of AUD and NZD
Who will enter the bubble nexts?
In the early days there was much talk about extending the corridor to the Pacific Islands next. These islands are heavily reliant on tourism and have come out of the pandemic quite unscathed. Fiji, for example, has recorded only 32 cases and 2 deaths while Tonga has had no cases.
On 1 September, the Cook Islands reopened borders to its nationals returning from New Zealand, work permit holders and permanent residents who were previously unable to fly back.
On 12 December, the Cook Islands and New Zealand announced that free travel would resume between the two nations n the first quarter of 2021.
"The arrangement recognises the special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands," said New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.
On 11 November, Scott Morrison began discussions with Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea regarding a bubble with Australia. These countries have been deemed low-risk as they've shown they can effectively manage the spread of COVID-19.
While talks have begun there's no set date on when bubbles will form yet.
More to come.
What to do in New Zealand
Start dreaming of those breathtaking fjords and extreme sports with our New Zealand travel guides or by heading to PlayNZ for an immersive experience into New Zealand's hotspots.
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