Aussies welcome from April 12 - Jacinda Ardern brings date forward

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has brought forward the dates for reopening the borders to fully vaccinated travellers into New Zealand, starting with fully vaccinated Australians from April 12, at 11:59 pm.

When it was first announced in February that dates had been set in stages for opening borders back open to the world, it was also mentioned that those dates of each stage "could change," the PM says.

"When we announced our border reopening plan, we also said the dates could change as we experienced our own Omicron wave and looked to come out the other side. That is now the situation we find ourselves in.

"That means we can plan with greater certainty, with the comfort of knowing the impact of these changes are safe and manageable."

From May 1, at 11:59 pm, the same will also apply for fully vaccinated travellers from visa waiver countries and those with valid visitor visas to enter New Zealand.

Ardern had a message for people across the ditch: "We are a safe place to visit, and New Zealand will be ready with open arms. In particular, I look forward to welcoming back our trans-Tasman travellers, who have historically made up 40% of our international arrivals, around 1.5 million Australians. They will be able to arrive in time for the Australian school holidays and provide a particular boost for our upcoming winter ski season."

This comes as a much-needed boost to the tourism industry that has seen much damage to its sector due to Covid-19.

"We know that travel numbers will be below 2019. It will take time to rebuild. And, while we have removed all travel isolation, so tourists will be able to experience the sights and sounds immediately, they will be required to have a pre-departure test."

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash unveiled a new campaign to get the tourism sector prepared for international backpackers, sightseers and holidaymakers that will come through our airports.

"This is the most exciting moment for our hard-working tourism sector for the past two years, and we are really ready to hit the ground running."

"This week, the government's tourism marketing agency and Tourism New Zealand starts a new campaign in Australia. 

"The new campaign seeks to persuade Australians to our unique landscapes, our hospitality, and the friendliness of Kiwis, and, I quote, 'within your wildest dreams.'"

"In the first few months, we expect people will travel mainly to connect with friends or family, before travel picks up for winter holidays, ski season and ultimately our peak summer season in 2022 and 2023."

The tourism minister also says there will be a strong focus on the domestic market with its own campaign set to launch in autumn.