How Will The Trans-Tasman Bubble Work? Your Guide To Getting Going

With the trans-Tasman bubble excitedly starting on April 19, the rush is now well and truly on to gear up for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand. To help explain how it'll all work, we've put together this handy little guide to get you on your way.

With the trans-Tasman bubble excitedly starting on April 19, the rush is now well and truly on to gear up for quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand. To help explain how it’ll all work, we’ve put together this handy little guide to get you on your way.

Get the welcome balloons and signs ready and the tissues stockpiled, because the trans-Tasman travel bubble is officially beginning at 11:59pm NZT on Sunday, April 18, or 9:59pm AEST.

Technically though, all of the fun and emotional reunions will kick off from Monday April 19 when the first quarantine-free flights out of Australia will depart and arrive in New Zealand.

Ready to get back on the trans-Tasman travel horse? Let’s go.

What do I need to do to enter New Zealand?

Milford Sound, South Island New Zealand
Milford Sound, South Island New Zealand

Unless you live in Western Australia, you can basically book your flight, dust off your passport and go from April 19.

You don’t need an exemption to leave Australia. The same goes for travelling from New Zealand.

There will be no requirements in terms of quarantine or proof of a test or vaccine. But if you have cold or flu-like symptoms you should not fly.

All passengers must wear a mask on flights and will need to show they have downloaded NZ’s COVID Tracer app while in the country.

Random temperature checks are also to be expected at New Zealand airports, but this is standard practice now wherever you fly from.

The only caveat is for Queenslanders where a decision will be made on Wednesday, April 14 on whether people flying from the sunshine state to New Zealand would need to get a test before they board their flights or face any extra restrictions.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is currently in talks with airlines to resume direct flights from NZ to regional tourism destinations in Queensland.

If there’s a COVID-19 case, what happens then?

While travelling at any time is always subject to risk, there’s still a fair chance that there could be the odd COVID-case or cluster outbreak either in Australia or New Zealand.

Speaking yesterday, Ms Ardern outlined the three “traffic light” responses if a case was detected in Australia: Green = continue, Yellow = pause or Red = suspend the bubble.

She said that if there was a case linked to a quarantine or border worker who was contained quickly, it would be likely that the bubble would continue.

A pause for 72 hours might be put in place if there was a localised outbreak such as the recent snap-lockdown in Brisbane.

If however, there are a number of community cases with an unknown source then the NZ government will suspend the bubble temporarily.

Ms Ardern said once the bubble was restarted travellers coming to NZ from an outbreak or previous outbreak area may be asked to do one of these things, “depending on the risk”:

  • monitor any symptoms you may have
  • take a test before you leave
  • isolate on arrival
  • go into managed isolation for 14 days, but only in “some situations”

In the event that a flight back from Australia did need to go into managed isolation Ms Ardern said that the people on board would not be charged.

Which airlines are flying to New Zealand?

Air New Zealand are ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports.

Air New Zealand will also launch a new route from Auckland to Hobart.

Qantas and Jetstar have announced that they will restart flying to all pre-COVID destinations in New Zealand when the two-way Trans-Tasman bubble opens on April 19.

With flights available to book now, both Qantas and Jetstar will initially operate up to 122 return flights per week across the Tasman on 15 routes, offering more than 52,000 seats each week. Plus they’ve announced new Auckland – Cairns and the Gold Coast routes.

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has taken a more pragmatic approach, suspending the sale of most of its NZ flights until later this year, saying the “evolving border requirements” of the bubble adds too much “complexity” to its business.

How expensive will it be?

queenstown
Queenstown

As per usual, it’ll depend on demand for where you’re going and what time of the year including school holidays.

In light of loved ones on both sides of the Tasman not being able to see each other in person for over a year, it’s likely the demand will be high initially as people rush to reconnect with friends and family.

Add in business travellers and of course, holidaymakers and you can be pretty sure it is going to be busy and pricey as airlines scale up to meet the demand to go.

The cheapest return flights we could find ex Sydney to Auckland in the first week of quarantine-free travel were $479 on Jetstar, $608 on Air New Zealand and $658 on Qantas which all things considered is still reasonable.

Much like Australia, New Zealand has seen a spike in domestic travel so check the rates for car hire and accommodation, particularly for the ski season starting in June.

Can I get my airfares refunded if there’s an outbreak?

Qantas Frequent Flyers

Qantas has extended its “fly flexible” policy, offering customers who book flights before 31 July 2021 added flexibility with unlimited fee free date changes when travelling before 28 February 2022.

Jetstar offers the option of purchasing FareCredit on bookings which allow passengers to cancel flights for any reason.

Air New Zealand’s international flexibility policy was recently extended so customers with flights scheduled to depart before 11:59pm on 31 December 2021 have the ability to opt into credit or make a change to the date or time of the flight with change fees waived, but a fare difference may still apply

Will I be mixing with other international passengers at the airport?

Auckland_airport
Auckland Airport

All travellers from quarantine-free flights, or ‘green flights’, will be taken through a green zone at the airport.

There will be no contact with anyone who is arriving from other parts of the world and who are going into managed isolation and quarantine.

New Zealand’s biosecurity checks at the border will operate as usual under quarantine-free arrangements. You’ll need to declare or dispose of any goods that could carry pests or diseases.

Where can I go in New Zealand?

Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers. Image: Tourism New Zealand
Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers. Image: Tourism New Zealand

You can travel to anywhere you want in New Zealand!

Fly, drive, walk, ride, run… Whatever you’re up for, there are no limits to where you can go and what you can do.

Get out and about and into New Zealand’s spectacular and friendly regional areas. The wonderful thing about travelling in compact New Zealand is that it’s so easy to get around, regardless of your choice of transport.

Will Aussies be welcome in New Zealand?

Absolutely! It’s been over a year and it’s time to reconnect again with our cousins over the ditch.

As Jacinda Ardern cheerily said: “If you are in Australia … come on over!”

“Come and see us. New Zealand is a beautiful country and one of the things we miss the most is our ability to share it with you.

“We’d love to see you.”

How can I get more information?

For the most up to date information, head to the below government sites.

www.covid19.govt.nz

www.smarttraveller.com.au/newzealand