New Zealand welcomes first flights of visitors from 60 visa-free countries: ‘A day to celebrate’


Travelers from 60 visa-exempt countries are now allowed smooth entry into New Zealand.

Lawrence Smith / Stuff

Travelers from 60 visa-exempt countries are now allowed smooth entry into New Zealand.

Kia ora, hello, konnichiwa, huanying, encantado and hallo, hello, hello.

New Zealand has been back on the world map for visitors from around 60 visa-free countries since this morning, as two flights from the United States mark a milestone for travel from the Northern Hemisphere .

Flight NZ5 is due to arrive from Los Angeles to Auckland on Monday at 5:45 a.m., followed shortly thereafter by NZ7 from San Francisco at 6:10 a.m.

Leanne Geraghty, director of sales and customer service at Air New Zealand, said flights would be packed to the brim with overseas visitors and returning Kiwis.

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Like Australians, they can now travel without isolation if they are vaccinated, and take a pre-departure test and then two arrival tests for Covid-19.

“They will be delighted to land on New Zealand shores again, as they reconnect with family, start their studies or start their own business,” she said.

“It’s great that international tourists can once again visit our beautiful country and explore all that Aotearoa New Zealand has to offer.”

Tourists at Lake Tekapo.  Winter tourism in New Zealand is now an option for residents of around 60 countries as the border is relaxed.

Alden Williams / Stuff

Tourists at Lake Tekapo. Winter tourism in New Zealand is now an option for residents of around 60 countries as the border is relaxed.

Geraghty said demand from visa-free countries has exceeded expectations, with many flight services filling up.

“We are happy with the way reservations are going on the network, both nationally and internationally. This is good news for New Zealand’s tourism industry, which has weathered a difficult storm over the past 800 days.

Air New Zealand stepped up its network to include Honolulu and Houston routes in July, it said.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said international online searches for flights to New Zealand were up 19% from 2018-19.

“We are a safe place to visit, and in a world still battling Covid-19, travelers will know where they are going,” Nash said.

“The industry knows there is a reconstruction coming. International travel will be very competitive and airlines will take time to establish their schedules and routes.

“However, today is a day to celebrate, and a great moment in our reconnection with the world.”

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said the government would continue to review New Zealand’s reconnection strategy to see if and when it would be possible to advance the final stages of the reconnection plan.

One of the last major unsupported tourist markets is China, which is not a visa-exempt country. Tourists from the country, the second biggest market before Covid, will currently not be welcomed until October.

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