Emotional reunions at Auckland International Airport as borders reopen to 60 visa waiver countries.
Not so long ago, travellers had a limited list of places they were able to visit with ease, as Covid-19 shut borders around the globe.
But with most of the world having now reopened, the more relevant question is, where can’t you go?
While New Zealand’s border policies once saw it described as a “hermit kingdom”, as of 11.59pm on July 31, we have now fully reopened to travellers from all over the world.
The only remaining Covid-related entry requirement for fully vaccinated travellers visiting New Zealand is to take two rapid antigen tests (RATs) on arrival. If a traveller tests positive, they are required to get a PCR test and self-isolate for seven days, though it’s up to the traveller to abide by this.
Some destinations’ borders remain closed to tourists, while others continue to enforce Covid-related entry requirements like pre-departure tests that could trip travellers up.
Here are some destinations that are still difficult to travel to.
China: Closed to tourists
China was one of our most-visited countries in 2019, with more than 140,000 Kiwis returning from a trip there. But the country’s borders remain largely closed, as the government continues to pursue a zero-Covid strategy.
However, there are early signs of reconnection, with the quarantine period for eligible visitors from overseas reduced to seven days (plus an additional three days in self-isolation), and commercial international flights gradually resuming, after a two-year ban.
Taiwan: Closed to tourists
Taiwan’s borders have reopened to some categories of travellers, including business travellers and international students, but remain closed to tourists.
Hong Kong: Open, but with quarantine
Hong Kong welcomed back non-residents in May, but there are still significant Covid restrictions in place. Before flying, travellers must present a pre-departure test taken within 48 hours, as well as confirmation of a seven-night room reservation at a designated quarantine hotel.
On arrival in Hong Kong, travellers must undergo Covid tests – both a PCR test and a RAT – at the airport. Travellers will also be tested throughout their time in the quarantine hotel, and will need to arrange for further tests at a community testing centre on days 9 and 12.
Those who test positive at any point will be admitted to a public hospital or isolation facility.
Japan: Open, but not for independent travel
On June 10, Japan reopened to international visitors from 98 “low risk” countries, including New Zealand. However, you can’t go as an independent traveller – you have to be visiting as part of a government-approved guided tour.
Those who do travel to Japan on one of these tours must obtain a visa, and will need to present a pre-departure test taken within 72 hours of their flight.
South Korea: Open, but with pre-departure and on-arrival testing
Unlike Japan, South Korea is open to all types of tourists. But travellers must present a pre-departure test, and pre-book a PCR test to be taken on arrival at Incheon Airport, or at a medical facility near your accommodation, within one day of arrival.
If the test is positive, travellers must spend seven days in a quarantine facility.
Samoa: Open, but with pre-departure and on-arrival testing
As of August 1, Samoa has reopened its borders to international visitors. Travellers are required to present a pre-departure test (either a RAT taken within 24 hours of the flight or a PCR test taken within 48 hours), and on arrival must get another test.
Travellers must also arrange to have a RAT at a health facility on day 5, and report results to the Ministry of Health. If the test is positive, they must isolate for seven days.
Tonga: Open, but limited flights and pre-departure and on-arrival testing
Tonga has also as of August 1 reopened its borders to international visitors. But flights into the kingdom will be limited for a start, with two flights a week from New Zealand until August 28, when a third flight will be added. From October 31, the schedule can increase to six flights a week.
Travellers will need to present a negative RAT taken within 24 hours of departure. They will also need to arrange to have a PCR test at an approved health centre within 3 to 5 days of arrival, with the result to be reported to the Ministry of Health. If positive, travellers are required to isolate for at least five days.
Solomon Islands: Open, but with pre-departure and on-arrival testing
The Solomon Islands reopened to international travellers in July. Travellers are required to present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and must take another PCR test (or RAT if PCR not available) on day 3 of arrival. Those who test positive are required to isolate for seven days.
Vanuatu: Open, but with pre-departure testing
Vanuatu reopened its borders to international travellers in July. Travellers are required to present a negative pre-departure test at check-in.
Niue: Open, but with pre-departure and on-arrival testing
Niue reopened to Kiwi travellers on June 27, with flights only available through New Zealand. Travellers must have a PCR pre-departure test taken within 48 hours of their flight, and must undertake subsequent PCR tests on arrival on days 1 and 3. These tests must be done at the Niue Foou Hospital. Those who test positive are required to isolate for seven days.
Fiji: Open, but with on-arrival testing
The perennially popular Pacific Island destination reopened its borders to tourists back in December, and dropped its pre-departure test requirement in May.
However, an in-country testing regime remains in place, and it’s strictly enforced. Travellers are required to pre-book a RAT– usually available on-site at their accommodation, or nearby – to be taken within 72 hours of their arrival. If they test positive, they will need to isolate for seven days.
Canada: Open, but with random on-arrival testing
Canada dropped its pre-departure testing requirement in April, but travellers could be tripped up by random Covid testing for international arrivals.
Travellers flying into Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal or Toronto may be randomly selected for an on-arrival test, which needs to be done within one day of landing. Those who test positive must isolate for 10 days.
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