If you’re an avid traveller with an eye on the news, you’ve likely heard New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern or Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison mention the Trans-Tasman Bubble in recent months. Exciting! But what does it all mean?
Down south here in Australia and New Zealand, quarantine and social distancing laws have been relaxed. Our lives are slowly returning to normal. But just like Dua Lipa, we’ve got new rules. How do those rules impact our travel plans? We’ve broken it down for you below…
What is the Trans-Tasman Bubble?
The Trans-Tasman Bubble refers to opening up an exclusive travel “corridor” between New Zealand and Australia. It would allow residents of the two nations to travel between. It would also start bringing the struggling tourism industries back to life! Both PMs have been consistently addressing plans to open up the bubble, with plans already set in motion in October when some Australian states and territories began to accept travellers from New Zealand, without the need to quarantine. But one-way travel does not a bubble make.
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When will the Bubble open up?
Earlier in the year, there were reports the Trans-Tasman Bubble would be up and running by September. However, spikes in some regions of Australia meant that plans were pushed back. In December, Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand would be open to a bubble with Australia in the New Year and the internet collectively went into meltdown mode.
“It is our intention to name a date for the commencement of Trans-Tasman quarantine free travel in the new year, once remaining details are locked down,” she said. “But I think, for now, New Zealanders by and large appreciate the approach of the Government to ensure that we are not taking on an unnecessary risk as we’re going into the summer.”
The PM says that opening up the bubble will be contingent on community transmissions, that Australia will need to have at least 28 days without community transmission before they open up their borders.
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Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government would “absolutely” approve of the agreement, saying it’s a welcome announcement after Australia began allowing New Zealand travellers in October.
“We consciously opened up Australia to people coming from NZ because their case numbers were negligible and we knew there would come a time when our case numbers would give them confidence,” he says in a statement. “It’s the first step on a return to international normality.”
Where can Australians travel right now?
After the devastating bushfires and the impacts of social isolation on the economy, many of us can’t wait to go support our local towns. So, what can we do? Compared to the current global situation, Australians are incredibly fortunate to have these freedoms and relaxations in place. We definitely need to remain vigilant in abiding by the rules, but many of us are able to enjoy luxuries like local trips and getaways right now.
After a lengthy lockdown, Australians can now travel freely between almost all states. But there are some conditions, especially for South Australian travellers at the moment.
Travel to New South Wales: As of December 13, travellers from all states and territories are welcome to visit NSW without needing to self-quarantine. No permit is required. Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to NSW is also in effect.
Travel to Victoria: As of December 12, travellers from all states and territories are welcome to visit Victoria without needing to self-quarantine. No permit is required. Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Victoria is also in effect.
Travel to the ACT: From December 9, visitors from all states and territories are welcome to travel to the ACT without needing to complete an online declaration of self-quarantine.
Travel to South Australia:
People are currently advised to avoid unnecessary travel in South Australia as they continue to maintain an outbreak that occurred in November. Anyone planning to visit South Australia from Australia or New Zealand needs to complete a Cross-Border Travel Registration form, but if you are entering from a Low-Community Transmission Zone you won’t need to quarantine.
In South Australia there are also some restrictions on travel to remote Aboriginal communities, so be sure to check on your state’s official government advice.
Travel to Western Australia: Before visiting or returning to WA from other states, you need to fill out a G2G PASS registration and declaration. If you’re travelling from a ‘very low-risk state’ you can enter freely, but if you are coming from a ‘low-risk’ state or territory then you need to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. At the moment, South Australia is the only state classed as ‘low-risk’.
Travel to Queensland: As of December 12, Queensland lifted their border closures to allow anyone to travel from any Australian state or territory. As of December 16, New Zealanders are free to visit Queensland without needing to quarantine, if they travel on a dedicated ‘quarantine-free flight’
Travel to the Northern Territory: All travellers and returning NT residents will need to fill out the Border Entry Form and check the quarantine requirements. If you have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot in the 14 days before you arrive in the NT, you will need to self-quarantine upon arrival. New Zealand arrivals are no longer considered as ‘international arrivals’ and are not required to quarantine, but will need to fill out the Border Entry Form.
Travel to Tasmania: Travellers from all Australian states and territories, and New Zealand, are welcome to visit Tasmania without needing to quarantine.
The laws have been changing week to week, and are subject to immediate change pending an outbreak. So, be sure to keep an eye on the rules of your region and check out State and Territory breakdowns like this one on the Guardian to stay informed. Check out our guide to the most beautiful places in Australia if you’re looking for a little local inspo.
Where can New Zealanders travel right now?
In news that was celebrated around the world, New Zealand confirmed it was free from active Coronavirus cases in June. With Ardern saying New Zealand is now “a place where our borders continue to be our first line of defence but where all current rules and restrictions on businesses and services are essentially lifted.” Since then, there have been some active cases in NZ but the restrictions remain at the lowest level – Alert Level 1 – for now.
As the lockdown effectively ended, regional travel opened back up, with lucky Kiwis allowed to travel anywhere in the North and South Island for recreational purposes.
“You can do and go wherever you like,” the PM said. “We just ask you keep a record of where you have been by scanning in – or noting down your movements for yourself.”
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As you would have seen above, the Trans-Tasman Bubble kind of opened in a one-way direction back in October. New Zealanders can travel to most Australian states and territories without restrictions if they board a ‘quarantine-free flight’ – meaning they’re not joining a connecting international flight where travellers are heading to hotel quarantine.
In New South Wales, Victoria, The ACT, The NT, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia you can visit without needing to quarantine. Western Australia is the only Australian state where Kiwi visitors will need to quarantine, but some states and territories require permits so make sure you check the government website before travelling.
When will Contiki open up local New Zealand and Australian trips?
The Contiki team have been working hard to create amazing new Aussie trips for locals, which began running again in November. You can find out about the new domestic trips for Aussies here.