No NZ Snow For NSW, $150 Test The Rest

The news just gets worse for NSW skiers and boarders, the Greater Sydney lockdown continuing with no end in sight (headline total case numbers were lower today Thursday, but infectious in the community cases were higher – which is the danger number), shutting out drive-to local options and taking NZ snow travel off the menu.

After a great start to bookings when the bubble was announced in April, and expectations of a huge influx of Aussies back to Queenstown in particular, things have nosedived.

Just when the snow is getting good too, another 25cm overnight for Treble Cone, and 8cm at Coronet Peak for example.

Saddle Basin 15/7/21 after another 25cm overnight © Treble Cone

“Aussie numbers (bookings) did look good but now they have virtually disappeared again” a Ski Area Manager told Snow Action. His daughter who lives in Sydney will be unable to get over for her holiday at the end of July now.

Stranded NZ citizens are the only ones allowed to fly back from NSW to NZ, with limited flights available and the need to go into expensive MIQ (Managed Isolation Quarantine) for 14 days on arrival – $NZD 3100 for the first person, plus $950 for each additional adult and $475 for each additional child sharing the same room. Originally the government said this would be paid by individuals, but so far for the current NSW outbreak the NZ government is footing the bill, and being accused of a U-turn as a result.

Australians are familiar with the ongoing debate about returning stranded Aussies – Prime Minister Scott Morrison originally claimed they would all be back by Xmas 2020, but the numbers waiting never seem to go down. After the NSW outbreak numbers returning have been halved, making it even harder to get back for citizens. Arguments rage about the pros and cons of this, and why some can come and go freely, like making multiple entries for “business” purposes, while others can’t get permission to visit dying relatives overseas.

There is no easy solution, short of large scale vaccination being achieved and a more open border policy allowing more (and cheaper) flights, and as a minimum home isolation for those returning, not quarantine hotels. Don’t hold your breath – this unlikely until well into 2022 at best.

Given all this, and the Ardern Government’s consistently cautious approach to opening travel arrangements, it’s highly unlikely travel from NSW will resume straight away even when the lockdown there ends. They will wait for community transmission to be minimal or zero, as they have after various very minor outbreaks in other Australian states this year.

Queensland was the most recent of those, the travel bubble resuming from midnight Tuesday 12 July for them.

That makes the whole rest of Australia in theory able to travel to NZ to ski. Unless you have been in NSW –

You cannot travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight from elsewhere in Australia if you were in New South Wales after 10:30pm on 26 June 2021.

But on top of your holiday costs Travellers from Australia are required to get PCR or RT-PCR pre-departure COVID test and the results within 72 hours prior to your travel date.

According to the NZ govt COVID travel info site, these specifically cannot be provided by free testing clinics. You have to use an approved private pathological lab like those listed here to get that. Prices are generally around the $AUD 150 mark.

But one of our followers from Adelaide who is in Queenstown now reports they got free tests from Clinical Labs in Adelaide.

“To be honest the NZ government didn’t even check the tests. The only time anyone asked to see them was at the Adelaide airport getting on our domestic connection flight to Melbourne” our snow spy reports.

Even armed with that, and even if you can get it free, if after your arrival in NZ an outbreak occurs where you have come from you may be liable to go into isolation anyway – at your expense, left sitting in your hotel room/apartment unable to ski and maybe needing to stay there longer.

Which is all enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.

No queues mid-July at Coronet Peak base. Sad times. © Coronet Peak

If and when things improve, the best late options remain Mt Hutt in the South Island and Ruapehu in the North Island, which is good till the end of October. You can definitely get some great spring skiing/riding at either of those.

The only positive for those forced to cancel so far is the snow had not been great most places, though that has been changing rapidly and no doubt will continue to do so as the Kiwi season kicks into higher gear.

Stay up to date with the latest NZ Government entry requirements on the link here

NZ Govt Advice If you’re now in New Zealand

If you were at a location of interest anywhere in Australia at the times specified, you need to:

  • self-isolate at your home or accommodation, and
  • call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on self-isolating and testing.

These instructions are outlined in a section 70 order(external link)

A section 70 order underscores the importance of you following the advice.

If you are required to have a test or are awaiting a test result and are due to fly overseas, you must wait till you have received the negative test result before departing.