Earlier this month, the New Zealand government introduced mandatory pre-flight COVID-19 testing as a condition of travel from Australia to New Zealand.
To travel to New Zealand on a “green zone” flight under the quarantine-free trans-Tasman bubble arrangement, you’ll need to get a COVID-19 test and receive a negative result within 72 hours before departure. This is calculated based on the scheduled departure time of your international flight from Australia to New Zealand.
But not just any COVID-19 test will do. The New Zealand government has specific requirements about the type of test results it will accept, and this seems to be strictly enforced.
The pre-flight testing requirement applies even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, although there are some other exemptions. Specifically, you do not need a COVID-19 test to travel from Australia to New Zealand if you:
- Were only in Australia for less than 72 hours (i.e. you travelled from New Zealand to Australia for a short trip, returning to New Zealand less than 3 days later)
- Are travelling from Norfolk Island to New Zealand (although this is under review),
- Are unable to get a COVID-19 test and instead provide a medical certificate, or
- Are not flying on a quarantine-free “green zone” flight and will be required to enter managed isolation upon arrival in New Zealand.
Which type of COVID-19 tests are accepted by the New Zealand government?
The New Zealand government only accepts PCR or RT-PCR tests.
You must provide the laboratory result form or a dated report from the laboratory that includes:
- Traveller’s name
- Traveller’s date of birth and/or passport number
- Date and time the test was conducted
- Name of testing lab
- Test type
- Test result.
A “Fit to Fly Certificate” will also be accepted, as long as it meets the New Zealand government’s requirements which can be found on its Unite Against COVID-19 website.
The New Zealand government advises travellers not to visit a free community testing station, as these generally do not provide an acceptable level of documentation for travel to New Zealand. Most free public testing sites will also turn you away if you’re requesting a COVID-19 test solely for the purpose of international travel.
An exception is in South Australia, where you could get a free COVID-19 test from SA Pathology, then call them to request a travel certificate.
But in other states, you’ll generally need to pay between $120-180 per person (prices vary between clinics) for a COVID-19 test before you can travel to New Zealand. Travellers are responsible for paying for their own tests.
Where to get a COVID-19 test for travel to New Zealand
You can check on the relevant state government websites for a list of pathology clinics in your state or territory:
- ACT COVID-19 testing locations
- NSW COVID-19 testing locations
- NT COVID-19 testing locations
- QLD COVID-19 testing locations
- SA COVID-19 testing locations
- TAS COVID-19 testing locations
- VIC COVID-19 testing locations
- WA COVID-19 testing locations
Note that the state government websites list both public and private testing sites. The New Zealand government website has a list of private testing providers in each Australian state & territory on its website.
If in South Australia, you may choose to get a test from SA Pathology for the reason listed above.
If you’re short on time, and travelling from Sydney Airport, Histopath Pathology has a COVID-19 testing location at the international Terminal 1 at Sydney Airport, near entrance H on the departures level. Histopath Pathology also operates a drive-through testing clinic at Sydney Airport. This clinic provides a same-day turnaround service with results generally returned within a few hours.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Where to get a pre-flight COVID-19 test?