New Zealand has had one of the strictest Covid lockdowns in the world. Now its borders are being fully reopened – CNBC | Gmx Pharm

After more than two years, New Zealand is fully reopening its borders and welcoming all international travellers.

The country will reopen on July 31, about three months earlier than previously announced.

Earlier this year, New Zealand’s borders were opened to Australians and citizens of 60 visa-free locations including Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2021 New Zealand had some of the toughest pandemic restrictions in the world, including lockdowns sparked by a single Covid case, extensive testing and numerous public health mandates.

Its largest city, Auckland, was under lockdown for 107 days from August to December 2021 due to outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Many curbs have been lifted, but requirements to enter New Zealand remain strict. Here’s what you should know before you visit.

The rules

With the exception of New Zealand citizens and Australians living in the country, visitors must present proof of vaccination to enter the country, according to the government’s Covid information page.

Both electronic and paper vaccination certificates are accepted.

Travelers must take a rapid antigen test on the day of arrival – although this is not required on arrival at the airport – and a second on the fifth or sixth day of their trip, according to the New Zealand Department of Health.

Masks are not compulsory outdoors, but indoors, e.g. B. in museums, supermarkets and pharmacies.

Cheapest travel time

Although inflation in New Zealand hit a 32-year high of 7.3% earlier this month, Navigate Travel said prices for tours, activities and accommodation are just as expensive, if not cheaper, than they were before the pandemic.

“(Holidays to) New Zealand are very cheap right now… Aside from air travel, there’s never been a cheaper time to travel,” said Daniel Painter, managing director of the travel agency.

Since it was announced in May that the country’s borders would fully reopen at the end of July, there has been strong interest from travelers to visit, Tourism New Zealand said.

“Online searches for international flights to New Zealand (have) increased by 39% since the announcement compared to pre-Covid searches,” said Gregg Wafelbakker, general manager of the tourism organization for Asia. More than 60% of that interest comes from Australia, he said.

However, Painter said demand for travel from Asia remains low as visitors from the region mainly come from Singapore.

Singapore-based travel agency Chan Brothers Travel said a lack of flights could be to blame.

“Travel demand to New Zealand has been healthy since the borders [reopened] for Singaporeans in May. However, due to the availability of flights, we are observing that demand is outstripping supply,” said Jeremiah Wong, the agency’s senior marketing communications manager.

Bigger expenses, longer trips

After years of being banned from New Zealand, travelers say they are willing to spend more to travel longer in the country, Wong said.

“An eight-day New Zealand tour was a popular choice before the pandemic, but we’re currently seeing more interest and bookings for our 11-day tour, which allows travelers to take in the sights at a more relaxed pace,” Wong said.

Navigate Travel’s Painter shared similar sentiments, saying that travelers “want to be able to relax and not have to worry about things, but they also want to be able to get great bang for their buck.”

According to Painter, hiking in the country’s national parks, a scenic helicopter flight over Franz Josef Glacier and whale watching near the town of Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island are just some of the activities tourists shouldn’t miss.

A helicopter flight over the Franz Josef Glacier.

Peter Kolejak / Eyeem | eyes | Getty Images

After spending more than two years in Singapore, Lew Moe Kien, 60, and her husband, 62, visited New Zealand for 12 days in May – just two weeks after the borders reopened to Singaporeans.

They said locals were delighted to have tourists back in the country and were welcomed with open arms at restaurants and other establishments.

“The places we visited in New Zealand weren’t crowded at all,” Lew said. “At many sights, only the two of us were there.”

Lew and her husband visited both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, including Hobbiton – a popular destination for Lord of the Rings fans – the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo and the pancake-shaped rock formations and blowholes in Punakaiki.

Shirleen Tan, 46, a human resource specialist from Singapore, is planning a trip to New Zealand with her family in December.

“We were looking for a place with warm weather, and New Zealand is one of the few warm countries in December,” Tan said.

She said she was looking forward to visiting vineyards for wine tasting, eating fresh oysters at oyster farms and “enjoying the beautiful scenery that New Zealand is famous for”.

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