At last there is some great news for NZ Snow as Jacinda Ardern announces the long-awaited Trans-Tasman Travel Bubble is set to start soon, with the actual date to be announced April 6th.
After months of speculation, the New Zealand Government finally made a decision at today’s cabinet meeting to allow quarantine free entry from Australia to New Zealand soon.
“We feel confident we can announce a date from the 6th” Ardern said at her press conference following the meeting, after outlining the areas that remain to be addressed before that.
Barring an untraceable outbreak of COVID-19 in the interim, she doesn’t foresee any major problems in resolving the outstanding issues.
Apart from a few brief shutdowns, quarantine free travel from New Zealand to Australia has operated since October.
NZ’s Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins announced yesterday that a bubble would be at least 3 weeks away to give airlines and airports time to get ready.
Christchurch Airport, which is the second major Trans-Tasman snow destination airport after Queenstown, claims to be ready to go at short notice. Frontline staff have already been vaccinated, and they have ‘Green and Red’ flight separation capability set up to keep bubble passengers separate from others requiring quarantine.
Qantas and Air New Zealand are ready to go at short notice, both airlines having planned for resumptions as soon as possible.
Both of them, plus Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Emirates and Singapore Airlines have continued to operate into Christchurch taking high value freight in lieu of passengers.
Air New Zealand had already picked the date, setting up fares from April 19 to most destinations.
They also announced new Hobart – Auckland twice weekly service as soon as the Trans-Tasman bubble opens.
We found Sydney – Queenstown return travel bubble fares with one 23kg bag from $NZD 818 for the first week of August Sunday 1st to Sunday 8th. You can lock a fare deal in for 3 days for $NZD 25 if you want to take a punt on things on their website – so you could check back on 5th April and lock something in only risking $25 if they don’t open in time for your dates.
Travel Bubble ski flights are even cheaper the same dates Sydney-Christchurch from $NZD 665 with one 23kg bag. That’s pretty good value for anyone wanting to check out Mt Hutt’s new 8 seat chairlift promising 2 minute park laps.
Compare these fares to some of the internal Australian airfares to snow gateways Albury and Cooma announced recently with no subisidies, and just as it used to be, going to NZ flights are as cheap or cheaper than skiing at home if you live too far to drive to the snow in NSW or Victoria.
For snow tour companies and travel agents the news has hopefully come just in time to help stave of some job losses with the pending end of the COVID-19 Jobkeeper subsidies.
Only one visitor from Australia to New Zealand so far this year has tested positive for Covid-19 while in managed isolation, so the medical risks for the Kiwis appear to be minimal. Their vaccination program is rolling at a bit faster pace than Australia’s, but by main winter both countries will have had a lot of people vaccinated.
So if you want to ski NZ, may be time to find some airfares and a deal folks!
But, as the NZ Prime Minister said when questioned on this last week, “When we do open people need to be prepared that it could close at any time.”
Adding at today’s press conference, “On both sides of the ditch there will be an element of flyer beware .. There may be occasions when we take a precautionary approach.”
PM Ardern explained the remaining issues needed to be ironed out, hence the April 6th deadline for an actual date to be announced.
At present passengers will still need to register for managed isolation accommodation prior to flying to New Zealand. The entry requirements for New Zealand are here miq.govt.nz
For inbound passengers into NZ COVID-19 test requirements are here covid19.govt.nz.