NZ Hits Covid Travel Ban Panic Button, Why Go?

The NZ government has hit the covid travel ban panic button, shutting tourist travel from Australia until the end of April 2022.

Well, that’s their latest timeline as below. But given the flip flops on policy, who really knows?

Remember the Trans-Tasman Bubble? It’s been officially buried by Kiwi COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins today too.

“The bubble doesn’t exist any more. The bubble was a construct that was established when there was no COVID-19 in New Zealand or Australia. And that is no longer the case on either side of the Tasman” he said.

Smashing the Towers at Mt Hutt looks like being off the agend again © snowaction.com.au

Which has actually been the case for months, so why wait till now? They actually burst it back in June.

Thousands of Aussies, including many skiers and boarders, got stuck for months when they shut the bubble down “temporarily” back then.

Obviously today’s NZ travel ban move from the Ardern Government to postpone reopening for another 5 months wrecks anyones summer travel plans to NZ.

But realistically, why would you bother risking booking a snow holiday there next winter?

With much of Australia virtually covid free now, and the states and territory that aren’t having vaccination levels over 90%, the risks of infection from vaccinated, tested travellers from Australia to NZ must be as low as they will get.

If it not safe to travel there now, what will make it so in 5 months time by the end of April?

New Zealand finally achieving a high vaccination level? In Australia what started as a “strollout” has turned into one of the best vaccination levels in the World, spurred by the impetus of outbreaks in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. Double vaxx levels are up to 98% in the ACT for example.

So the idea that vaccinated and tested travellers from there would pose a threat to New Zealand is pretty ridiculous.

Australia is ready to surge on with 3rd shot boosters too – which experience shows is sorely needed.

Yet the NZ government has decided none of this really matters. Nor does their international tourism business.

Basically it appears they don’t think they can cope with their current current outbreak – though, after an even slower start to vaccinations, they are getting close to 90% double dose levels.

The timetable announced today includes these key deadlines:

  • January 17 – Australian-based New Zealanders can self-isolate on arrival
  • February 14 – New Zealanders from other countries can self-isolate on arrival
  • April 30 – All international travellers can self-isolate on arrival

We have done so many reports on this whole issue, going back to hopes for some Trans-Tasman snow travel in 2020 even limited to Tasmania (as mooted by the premier there and former Kiwi minister Winston Peters). But every time things look positive, they shift the goal posts.

Worldwide experience suggests another wave of covid is highly likely to hit next southern winter. With a massively vaccinated population on both sides of the ditch that should not be too much of a problem.

But if one side shuts down at the first hint of an outbreak, booking with any confidence will be impossible.

Not surprisingly, the decision has been slammed by NZ tourism industry representatives. Early casualties include the venerable YHA, which has had to close all its hostels after 89 years, citing the lack of international guests over summer as the final nail in the coffin. Back before backpacker networks never mind Air B&B, they were the place to stay.

Save your money and book somewhere you can go is our advice – like Canada now, or the USA if you are comfortable with their higher unvaccinated levels, and hopefully Japan soon. Australia has opened to Japan from late December, we are waiting for them to reciprocate.

And/or just grab the Epic Australia Pass before rates increase and stay home for winter 2022.

Sad to say it, but we will not be making any NZ snow plans for 2022 unless they do re-open on schedule and stay open for several months without more panic shutdowns. Once bitten, twice shy.