The Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble On April 19: All You Need To Know

Apr 13, 2021
Travel Insurance
By Staff writer

Table of Contents

The trans-Tasman travel bubble is now finalised after months of serious management talks and COVID-19 precautions between New Zealand and Australia.

Starting this 19 April 2021, Kiwis can now visit Australia without the need for quarantine upon arrival. Australia has also set different quarantine guidelines for travelling to and from the country. After several months of lockdowns, citizens and residents of both countries can now travel outside their borders.

Many New Zealanders are happy with this travel bubble, while some remain sceptical about it. No matter what side you’re on, here are some important things you need to know about the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Quarantine restrictions are lifted in both countries

Once Kiwis reach Australia, they don’t have to go through mandatory quarantine for travellers coming into the country. The same is true for New Zealand — travellers coming from Australia won’t have to spend the required quarantine time at the border. This rule also applies to Kiwis returning to New Zealand.

The only exception to this quarantine-free travel is an outbreak in Australia while you’re currently visiting. Once you return to the country, you may have to spend a quarantine period in managed isolation. Managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities have designated at least 500 spaces if this happens.

Various codes if an outbreak occurs in Australia

If an outbreak occurs in Australia while you’re visiting, the NZ government has a traffic light system that corresponds to possible scenarios. Green corresponds to continue, orange corresponds to pause, and red corresponds to suspend.

Green (Continue) Orange (Pause) Red (Suspend)
What does it mean? Cases are present in the border, but little to no risk of community transmission is detected. Cases are of unknown source, so short-term lockdown may be appropriated. Multiple cases of unknown sources are present, so longer-term lockdowns may be appropriated.
What will happen? Flights to and from Australia are likely to continue. Flights to and from Australia may be paused in the next 72 hours. Flights to and from Australia may be suspended for a certain period.
What do you need to do? Follow local news and health guidelines. Get a pre-departure test before leaving the country. Get a pre-departure test before leaving the country.
Get tested and self-isolate if feeling unwell. Self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. Watch out for symptoms, self-isolate, and get tested for COVID-19.
Avoid going outside your accommodation as much as possible. Isolate once you return to New Zealand. Isolate once you return to New Zealand.

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“Green zones” separate you from other travellers

It’s no news that COVID-19 transmission happens through physical contact. To minimise these contacts, both countries have designated “green zones” on their airports, which separates Kiwis from travellers from other countries. Although you’ve been designated a specific area, you may still have to go through random temperature checks and health check-ups. 

While you can pass the airport with ease, you still have to wear face masks on all flights between New Zealand and Australia. These precautionary measures are observed to minimise transmission risks and contacts as much as possible.

Only certain OZ states are part of the travel bubble

Once you’re inside Australia, you may only be able to travel to certain states. Currently, the trans-Tasman travel bubble covers: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. Western Australia isn’t covered by the travel bubble and is not welcoming Kiwi travellers.

It’s also important to note that states have different rules and restrictions. If you plan on doing an inter-state travel, keep this in mind. Generally though, you can travel without worries — unless the state decides to close their borders.

Vaccination and COVID-19 test aren’t mandatory

Getting vaccinated isn’t a requirement to qualify for the trans-Tasman travel bubble. You also don’t need to get tested. However, you may not be eligible to travel if you’ve tested positive in the past 14 days or are still waiting for a result. Once the period lapses or the test comes out negative, you can resume your travel.

If an outbreak happens while you’re in Australia, you may need to take the test before returning to New Zealand. You may also have to spend the quarantine period in one of the MIQ facilities, depending on the situation.

Different travel forms are necessary upon arrival

Although vaccination and COVID-19 tests aren’t required, you still need to comply with different travel forms mandated by the Australian government. At check-in, all travellers from NZ must accomplish the Australian travel declaration, indicating that you haven't travelled out of NZ within 14 days of your arrival in OZ. You can simply apply for this form online. 

If you’re flying directly to Sydney, you also need to accomplish the New Zealand arrival declaration form along with the Australian travel declaration. This comes directly from the New South Wales Government. Other states may have different requirements as well.

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Flights are already selling out fast

Air New Zealand — the country’s national airline carrier — has announced a new ramped-up schedule for flights between Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, and eight airports in Australia, starting 19 April. For the full list of flights, see below:

Date Departure Flights per week Arrival
Starts on 19 April Auckland 1-2 flights Brisbane
1-3 flights Melbourne
3-4 flights Sydney
6-7 flights Perth (for approval)
Gold Coast
Wellington 3-5 flights Brisbane
4-6 flights Melbourne
6-10 flights Sydney
Christchurch 5-7 flights Brisbane
6-7 flights Melbourne
7-11 flights Sydney
Queenstown 3-5 flights Melbourne
4-7 flights Sydney
Starts on 24 April Christchurch 1-3 flights Gold Coast
Starts on 5 May Auckland 3-4 flights Adelaide
Queenstown 3 flights Brisbane
Starts on 28 June Auckland Sunshine Coast
Starts on 29 June Cairns

Flights from Auckland to Hobart are yet to be confirmed, but it’s most likely to be 2 flights per week. This is helpful for Kiwis and Aussies who long to travel but also for residents that have families and relatives in both countries.

Aside from this announcement, Air New Zealand says flights are almost sold out! They’ve celebrated a “record sales day” after thousands of Kiwis and Aussies booked their flights after the announcement. You may want to hurry and book your flights now if you intend to travel across the Tasman soon.

Trans-Tasman may cause a spike in COVID-19 cases

Although NZ and OZ authorities are doing their best to follow the rigorous steps and strict measures, there’s always a risk. COVID-19 is very unpredictable and very hard to detect. That’s why a lot of Kiwis strongly oppose the travel bubble. 

According to the latest data by the Ministry of Health, Australia is the fifth biggest contributor to New Zealand’s imported COVID-19 cases. As of 19 March 2021, they’ve totalled 35 out of 1,231 imported cases. Although this isn’t significant to other imported cases from the UK and the US accounting for 289 and 197 respectively, this is still more than enough to cause a domino transmission within the local community. 

Travel at your own risk

While many Kiwis are willing to travel as made evident by the easily sold out flights, some Kiwis aren’t taking any chances. Others find the risk of travelling worth it for a long-overdue holiday or just to see their loved ones. Both have reasonable explanations of their side, and neither is right nor wrong. 

If you choose not to travel, great choice! Simply enjoy the local nature and spend time with your family. If you choose to travel across the Tasman, travel at your own risk. Be sure to follow all precautions and measures set by both governments. Of course, you should also adhere to COVID-19 measures as a rule of thumb.

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