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New Zealand travel restrictions: Where you can go in May 2021

Get in the know and find out what you can explore in New Zealand right now with our constantly updated guide.

Whether you’re after a hike in a forest setting or a splash along some sandy shores, travel in New Zealand right now looks very much like it did pre-COVID-19. While travel outside of the country is not currently possible, when it comes to exploring our own backyard, the sky’s the limit.

Auckland is now out of Alert Level 2 and has joined the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 1, which means you can move around the country relatively freely as long as you follow some basic health measures. Read on to find out where you can go and what there is to do with the current New Zealand travel restrictions.

Accommodation in New Zealand

Overnight recreational stays, including at hotels, hostels, holiday homes, campsites, boats and family and friends’ homes are allowed. You may notice additional cleaning protocols in place, such as hand sanitiser stations, and guests details will be collected for contact tracing purposes.

Staying with family or friends

Staying with family and friends is allowed and at the current alert Level 1, there is no limit to the number of people who can gather in one place.

Staying at hotels

Hotels are open across the country with no limit on the number of guests. Shared areas such as pools, gyms, playgrounds, spas and conference centres can open, but physical distancing needs to be maintained.

When you stay, you may notice extra safety hygiene methods in place to keep you safe. This might include sanitisation stations, contactless deliveries for in-room dining and physical distancing enforced in communal areas.

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Staying in a holiday home

If you’re renting a holiday home or short stay such as an Airbnb property, there is no limit to the number of people permitted in Level 1.

Airbnb has placed a worldwide limit of 16 people for rentals, and a ban on all parties and events at Airbnb listings.

Staying at hostels

Hostels are open for holiday-goers. During your stay, you should expect enhanced safety and hygiene measures. These may include increased sanitisation stations for guests, as well as reduced capacity in shared dorms and common rooms.

Camping and caravanning

Holiday parks, national park campsites, huts and visitors centres are fully open for recreational activities and camping. This includes major sites such as Lake Waikaremoana, Matauri Bay and Shelly Beach.

Boats and yachts

All recreational water-based and boating activities are permitted, and contact tracing must be carried out.

Tourist attractions in New Zealand

All major tourist attractions and recreational experiences such as museums, art galleries, cinemas, zoos, historic sites, function centres and theatres are allowed to be open. You may notice additional safety measures in place such as hand sanitiser stations, signs encouraging physical distancing, and contact-free payment and entry systems.

Popular attractions that are currently open include:

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National parks

You can now visit any national park within New Zealand and visitor centres, huts and campsites are also open. Overnight stays, multi-day hikes and the full range of outdoor activities are fully available.

The following parks have reopened:

  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
  • Egmont National Park
  • Fiordland National Park
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Beaches and local parks

Local beaches and parks are open for daily visits including the following popular options:

  • Anchorage Bay
  • Hot Water Beach
  • Maitai Bay
  • Matapouri Bay
  • Mt Maunganui
  • Ninety Mile Beach
  • Ohope Beach
  • Whale Bay

Getting to and from your holiday

All of New Zealand is at Alert Level 1, which means that you can travel anywhere while being mindful of a few safety precautions. You’ll need to keep track of where you’ve been, either manually or with the NZ COVID Tracer app, and wear a face covering on flights and public transport.

Driving within New Zealand

You can currently drive in your own vehicle anywhere within the country. Car rental for leisure travel is permitted. Additional hygiene methods may be used when picking up and dropping off your vehicle.

Flights within New Zealand

You may book flights and fly within the country. You won’t have to self-isolate on arrival or return, though the experience may be different from what you’d usually expect. For example, physical distancing at the airport and while boarding is encouraged, and you’ll be asked to wear a face covering at all times.

Flights to New Zealand

There are currently flights into New Zealand, but passengers must meet some guidelines in order to travel.

Most travellers flying to or transiting through New Zealand must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result before departure. You are generally excluded if travelling from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands, you cannot take a test due to medical reasons, or you’re under 2 years of age.

Before arriving in New Zealand, passengers must register their managed isolation accommodation requirements. A Managed Isolation Allocation System Voucher must be presented at check-in. We suggest checking availability before booking your ticket and registering as soon as possible. You can book your accommodation up to 3 months in advance.

Coach and bus services

Coach and bus services are operational both within and between cities. You’ll need to wear a face covering on coach and bus services, unless exempt, and passengers are also encouraged to scan QR codes using the NZ COVID Tracer app or record their travel manually.

  • Atomic Travel: All services running as normal.
  • InterCity: All services running as normal.
  • Kiwi Experience: Hop-on-hop-off tours currently suspended.
  • Skip: All services are suspended until further notice.
  • Stray: A small selection of these hop-on-hop-off tours continue to operate.

Ferry services

  • Bluebridge: Sailings operating as normal.
  • Fullers360: All services are operating as normal.
  • Interislander: Sailings operating as normal.

All personal boating, including overnight stays, is permitted in New Zealand waters.

Which regions can I travel to?

At Alert Levels 1 and 2, you can move about the country freely.

  • Auckland: Alert Level 1
  • Bay of Plenty: Alert Level 1
  • Canterbury: Alert Level 1
  • Gisborne: Alert Level 1
  • Hawke’s Bay: Alert Level 1
  • Manawatū-Whanganui: Alert Level 1
  • Marlborough: Alert Level 1
  • Nelson: Alert Level 1
  • Northland: Alert Level 1
  • Otago: Alert Level 1
  • Southland: Alert Level 1
  • Taranaki: Alert Level 1
  • Tasman: Alert Level 1
  • Waikato: Alert Level 1
  • Wellington: Alert Level 1
  • West Coast: Alert Level 1

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Frequently asked questions about travelling in New Zealand during COVID-19

How far can I travel from home?

There are currently no limitations on how far you can travel around New Zealand.

Are there any regional travel restrictions?

New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 1 which means you can travel without restrictions around the country.

Can I travel to New Zealand if I live in another country?

The New Zealand borders are closed to most travellers unless you are a New Zealand citizen or resident. There are a small number of limited exceptions that apply to the current restrictions.

Do I need to limit the number of people I travel with?

No, you do not need to limit the number of people.

Do I need to pre-book to visit dining venues and attractions?

No, you do not need to pre-book dining venues, but some attractions are enforcing a pre-book system for bookings.

Will I need to self-isolate or go into quarantine when I return from my trip?

For domestic travel, you do not need to quarantine. If flying to New Zealand from another country, you can expect at least 14 days of quarantine or managed isolation, unless you’re arriving under quarantine-free travel.

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