After months and months of anticipation, the Trans-Tasman Bubble is finally set to open on the 19th of April 2021. The news was confirmed by Jacinda Ardern in a press conference in New Zealand today and we couldn’t be more excited!
The bubble has been in the works since mid-2020, with many false starts leaving travellers hungrier than ever for the borders to reopen. Now that the travel corridor will officially open between Australia and New Zealand, people will be able to enjoy quarantine-free travel between the two countries. But the shiny new bubble is not without its obvious conditions.
We’re incredibly lucky down south here in Australia and New Zealand as our lives – and travel plans – slowly return to normal. But just like Dua Lipa, we’ve got new rules to follow. How do those rules impact our plans? We’ve broken it down for you below…
What is the Trans-Tasman Bubble?
The Trans-Tasman Bubble refers to the opening of an exclusive travel “corridor” between New Zealand and Australia. It would allow residents of the two nations to travel between for recreational purposes, without the need to quarantine. It would also start bringing the struggling tourism industries back to life.
Both Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister Scott Morrison have been in constant discussion around the bubble, with Australia opening its borders to New Zealanders last October. Now, New Zealand is set to extend the offer back to Aussies in mid-April.
When will the Trans-Tasman Bubble open up?
Today, Jacinda confirmed the NZ travel bubble would open at 11:59 pm Wellington time (9:59 pm AEST) on the 18th of April. Meaning regular travel will be back in full swing on the 19th of April – less than two week’s away!
“This is an exciting day. The Trans-Tasman bubble represents the start of a new chapter in our COVID response and recovery one that people have worked so hard for, and this makes New Zealand and Australia relatively unique,” she said live from the press conference.
Meanwhile, the Australian Government already paved the way for Australians to travel to New Zealand as soon as the bubble opens. The Biosecurity Act was amended on March 21, lifting the international travel ban to allow Australians to travel overseas exclusively to New Zealand as soon as Jacinda gave the go-ahead.
Along with all of the exciting government announcements, Air New Zealand has also confirmed today that they will be the first airline to offer flights within the Trans-Tasman Bubble. They’ve already scheduled 23 flights between Auckland and Sydney for the week commencing April 19. Contiki has also unveiled epic trips you can take in the Trans Tasman Bubble, which you can check out here.
How will the Trans-Tasman Bubble work?
Keen to pop across the ditch and get travelling within the Trans-Tasman Bubble? Same! Though today’s press conference was just a preliminary announcement, we did learn some details about how the bubble will work.
Jacinda revealed that they would follow the same “Alert Level” protocol concept for opening the borders with Australia, as they have implemented for regions within New Zealand. If a potential outbreak occurred in Australia, there would be levels to the response the government had on suspending travel from that region or the country as a whole. This is basically how Australia has been operating in regard to New Zealand, like when the Auckland outbreak occurred towards the end of 2020.
“For instance, if a case is found that is quite clearly linked to a border worker in a quarantine facility and is well contained, you’d likely see travel continue in the same way as you would see life continued if that happened here in New Zealand,” she said.
“If, however, the case was found that was not clearly linked to the border and the state responded by a short lockdown to identify more information, we’d likely pause flights from that state in the same way we would stop travel into and out of a region in New Zealand. And if we saw multiple cases of unknown origin we would likely suspend flights for a set period of time.”
Where can Australians travel right now?
After a lengthy lockdown, Australians can pretty much travel freely between all states and territories for the first time in 12 months. Entry to some states such as Western Australia and the Northern Territory requires a border pass and laws are subject to change pending an outbreak, so be sure to keep an eye on the rules of your region by checking the State and Territory websites.
Due to the outbreak in Brisbane, some states including Western Australia and Victoria have temporarily imposed travel bans on Queensland or Greater Brisbane. Be sure to check the state or territory info before making any travel plans if you’re from Queensland.
Thinking of travelling domestically? 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 2020. With Jacinda 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. After some cases were recently recorded, Auckland joined the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 1 on March 12. Kiwis are 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.”
Check out our guide to the most beautiful places in NZ if you’re looking for some holiday inspo.
As for Kiwis travelling to Australia, 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 start running New Zealand and Australian trips?
Good news, you keen Contiki travellers! The 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. New Zealand domestic trips also began running at the end of 2020, which you can check out here.