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New Zealand Is Opening a Travel Bubble with the Cook Islands But It Doesn't Extend to Australia

Australians can still leave the country for a NZ holiday, but extending the journey to another country afterwards isn't currently permitted.
By Stephen Heard and Sarah Ward
May 04, 2021
By Stephen Heard and Sarah Ward
May 04, 2021

For New Zealanders, holidaying in the islands will soon become reality, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown this week confirming that a travel bubble is set to open between NZ and the Pacific nation.

Pending final confirmation by New Zealand's Director-General of Health and the Cook Islands Secretary of Health, two-way quarantine-free travel will commence between the two countries on Monday, May 17, one month after the opening of the long-discussed trans-Tasman travel bubble between NZ and Australia.

The Cook Islands closed its borders in March 2020 and has been virus-free to this day. Prime Minister Ardern said a huge amount of work had gone into ensuring the two-way bubble was safe and that the Cook Islands was set up and ready for it.

The quarantine-free travel will apply to travellers in NZ and the Cook Islands who meet the eligibility requirements, including spending at least 14 days in either NZ or the Cook Islands before making the trip. But if you're an Australian now thinking of planning a multi-stop overseas getaway, the situation isn't as straightforward as you might hope.

As part of NZ's announcement about the planned arrangement with the Cook Islands, it notes that anyone wanting to travel between Australia and the Cook Islands would need to spend at least 14 days in NZ in the middle. Back in April, however, the Australian Government made a Biosecurity Determination that advises that Australian citizens and permanent residents can only leave the country to travel to NZ, unless they receive an exemption.

So, hopping from NZ to the Cook Islands after a fortnight in the former isn't currently covered. Neither is hopping from NZ to anywhere else in the world. The Biosecurity Determination came into effect after the trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and NZ started, to cover the possibility that Aussies would use NZ as a stopover before venturing further afield.

Whether Australia and the Cook Islands will enter into their own travel bubble arrangement is yet to be revealed — and whether the Australian Government will amend the current Biosecurity Determination to allow Aussies to travel to the Cook Islands from NZ hasn't yet been advised, either. So, for now, that island getaway you might be dreaming of still needs to remain on hold.

The two-way quarantine-free travel bubble will commence between New Zealand and the Cook Islands on Monday, May 17; however, Australia's recent Biosecurity Determination means that Aussies still can only holiday in NZ without receiving an exemption, and can't hop from there to the Cook Islands.

Full information about quarantine-free travel for New Zealanders to the Cook Islands, including eligibility, what travellers should expect and updates to requirements, can be found on the New Zealand Government COVID-19 website.

Published on May 04, 2021 by Stephen Heard


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