Trans-Tasman travel bubble


16th April, 2021

Trans-Tasman travel bubble takes off next week

Travel between Australian and New Zealand will be quarantine free as of next week, with Australians receiving the greenlight to fly from 19 April.

With COVID-19 community transmission cases almost non-existent across both countries, the Australian and New Zealand Governments have agreed to launch a ‘travel bubble’ between the two countries, a move that is expected to hasten the full economic recovery for both Oceanic regions.

The travel bubble will open at 11:59pm on Sunday 18 April 2021.

The news of the bubble has been welcomed by New Zealand’s tourism industry, which was heavily impacted by the halt in travel across the ditch, with Australians representing 40 percent of the country’s international tourist arrivals in 2019, according to Tourism New Zealand.

The ABC reported that Prime Minister Scott Morrison applauded the announcement, referring to the travel-bubble as a “win-win” scenario for both regions.

“After spending all that time in New Zealand, for the past year, I’m sure that so many will be keen to get on that plane and come across,” said Morrison.

Due to their closeness in proximity and similarities in culture, many businesses that are based in either Australia or New Zealand tend to either open up a branch, or work with suppliers and similar businesses across the ditch.

With travel restarting between the two regions, it is expected that business owners will be keen to regain the face-to-face experience that has been lacking since last year’s border closures.

However, when announcing the arrangement, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern urged travellers to make plans under the guidance of “flyer beware”.

“People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,” Ardern said.

New Zealand’s three-pronged contingency plan

A key concern for business owners travelling across the ditch will be the uncertainty around sudden border closures in the event of new cases being reported in either country.

Ardern addressed this concern by outlining three different strategies for each form of potential outbreak.

  1. If a hotel quarantine worker contracts the virus and is contained right away, the bubble would likely remain intact without any form of suspension.
  2. An outbreak that spreads into the community but remains under control (meaning, with all cases linked to the source) on both sides of the bubble, a temporary suspension could be expected to be put in place to facilitate a snap-lockdown to limit the chances of an uncontrolled spread.
  3. Community transmission without any links would likely result in a more lengthy suspension of the bubble to accommodate for a more extensive lockdown to drive down numbers.

Ardern also confirmed that if snap lockdowns would be required, affected travellers would be put up in hotels for the 14-day quarantine period free-of-charge.

Qantas and Air New Zealand have extended their flexibility policies to allow for travellers to enjoy the travel bubble with comfort.

Travel beyond the bubble

For Australian citizens, travelling overseas without an exemption will only be possible when flying to New Zealand, and further travel beyond the New Zealand border will be prohibited.

Kiwis will also be unable to use the bubble to transit beyond Australia on their way to other countries.

With quarantine-free overseas travel only expected to restart in late 2021, the results of this bubble are expected help shape the creation of other travel bubbles between Australia, New Zealand and other COVID-19 free destinations.

Travel checklist

As New Zealanders have been able to travel freely to Australia without quarantining since last October, and as travellers on both sides don’t need to vaccinate in order to commute, there aren’t very many pre-travel requirements to be met.

But, it will be expected of Australians that land in New Zealand to download the local COVID-safe app, and to complete the Australian Government’s overseas travel declaration document at least 72 hours prior to returning home.

For those travelling to New Zealand who are not Australian citizens, NZeTa visa applications need to be lodged and approved prior to travel.