Burst Bubble: NZ Suspends All Aussie Arrivals

Grounded Air New Zealand & Qantas planes at Auckland Airport
Grounded Air New Zealand & Qantas planes at Auckland Airport yesterday after the trans-Tasman bubble was suspended. Photo: Matt Graham.

The New Zealand government has paused quarantine-free travel from all Australian states until at least next Wednesday, amid concerns over new COVID-19 cases found in multiple parts of the country over recent days.

The trans-Tasman travel bubble suspension came into effect almost immediately after it was announced on Saturday evening. The pause is currently due to end tomorrow night (11.59pm NZT on Tuesday), but this will be reviewed again later today. Further changes are possible.

Travel from NSW to New Zealand was already suspended last week due to the lockdown in Sydney. But since the pause on travel from Victoria to New Zealand was lifted last Wednesday, there had not been restrictions on travel from any other Australian states to New Zealand.

Since the trans-Tasman bubble was launched on 19 April 2021, travel has been paused temporarily from individual Australian states – but not the whole country.

New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins cited the emergence of new cases in the Northern Territory as the trigger for suspending the trans-Tasman bubble. In recent days, new community COVID-19 cases have also been found in NSW, Victoria, Queensland & Western Australia and there are concerns coronavirus could have spread in Australia even further. Greater Sydney and Greater Darwin are also currently under lockdown.

This has also prompted many Australian states and territories to implement strict new border domestic border measures, which you can read about in our guide to current Australian state border restrictions.

Many trans-Tasman flights cancelled

There are currently no restrictions on travel from New Zealand to Australia (unless you’ve been identified as a close contact after visiting a Wellington exposure site). Some flights in that direction of the bubble continued to operate as scheduled yesterday, but many were cancelled as the planes would have needed to return to New Zealand without passengers. (At least the airlines can still make some money by filling the plane’s belly with freight!)

Auckland Airport international departures
International departures board at Auckland Airport on 27 June 2021. Photo: Matt Graham.

New Zealand’s capital Wellington has been on “alert level 2” during the past week after a confirmed COVID-19 case visited Wellington from Sydney while unknowingly infectious. This resulted in thousands of New Zealanders being forced into self-isolation for a fortnight and additional restrictions being placed on Wellington, causing some businesses to shut.

Thankfully, no further COVID-19 cases have been found in Wellington at this point. But it just shows how seriously the New Zealand government takes this risk. Throughout the pandemic, the NZ government has taken a highly cautious approach and actively pursued an “elimination” strategy.

Mandatory pre-departure testing on the way?

It is expected that quarantine-free travel to New Zealand could soon be allowed to resume from some Australian states. But travel from NSW will remain paused for at least the next couple of weeks while Sydney remains under lockdown.

The New Zealand government has flagged that they may soon require travellers from Australia to get a pre-departure COVID-19 test. This could be a requirement when travelling from some, or possibly all states & territories.

This had been a temporary requirement of travellers from Victoria in recent weeks.

In cases where Australians need to get a pre-departure test, the New Zealand government requires a “Fit to Fly” certificate obtained from a private pathology clinic within 72 hours of travel. A PCR or RT-PCR type of test would need to be used, and it generally costs around $150 to obtain this type of certificate from a private pathology clinic. (Free COVID-19 tests from public testing facilities are not generally accepted for travel purposes.)

We’ll learn more about the revised travel conditions over the coming days. In the meantime, you can join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: New Zealand Travel Bubble Announcement


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]