New Zealand Is Reopening Its Borders Sooner Than Expected

After two years of closures, New Zealand will reopen its borders on May 1

Cavalli Islands Kayak Tour - Auckland Sea Kayaks

Courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

After undergoing one of the strictest lockdowns during the pandemic, Aotearoa (New Zealand) is finally ready to reopen its borders to U.S. travelers after two years of closures.

Starting May 1 at 11:59 p.m., vaccinated tourists from visa-waiver countries, including the U.K., Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Canada, can visit New Zealand without quarantine upon arrival, so long as they provide a negative COVID test before departure. Travelers with existing visitor visas will also be eligible to enter that day, while vaccinated travelers from Australia can visit as early as April 13.

"We look forward to welcoming manuhiri [visitors], family and friends back in May," said Tourism New Zealand's Chief Executive, René de Monchy, in a statement. "New Zealand has plenty to offer international visitors from breathtaking landscapes, rare and remarkable wildlife to our rich culture and heritage; our people and place are what make us unique, and we look forward to sharing this with the world again."

In addition to the pre-departure COVID test, travelers must take a second rapid antigen test upon arrival and another on the fifth or sixth day of their trip. Tests will be provided at Auckland Airport and can be self-administered elsewhere, like at a hotel or Airbnb. Should either test come back positive, a second PCR test is needed to confirm the results; those with positive results will be required to quarantine "in line with the requirements that apply to all community COVID-19 cases in New Zealand."

The latest news comes as a big surprise, as the New Zealand government had previously shared that it planned to reopen in July.

"While we know it will take some time to see tourism scale up again, today's announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators who have done it harder than many," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday.

The 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland is slated to resume this year, and nonstop flights to New Zealand from San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, and Honolulu.

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  1. New Zealand Government. "When New Zealand's Borders Open." Accessed March 16, 2022.