New Zealand Is Reopening to Vaccinated American Travelers a Month Ahead of Schedule

Although the island country is currently experiencing a COVID surge, officials hope reopening will boost tourism.

Editor's Note: We know COVID-19 is continuing to impact your travel plans. Should you travel now, be sure to familiarize yourself with the CDC's latest guidance on domestic and international travel as well as local requirements, protocols, and restrictions for both your destination upon your arrival and your home city upon your return. Be safe out there.

For the past two years, New Zealand has had some of the world's strictest COVID-19 policies, which allowed the country to keep infection rates relatively low. On Tuesday, the island country announced that not only will it open back up to American travelers, but it will also be moving up its opening date by a full month.

Starting on May 1, fully vaccinated travelers from the US and other non-visa countries can enter New Zealand without a quarantine period. "It will take some time to see tourism scale up again," said Jacinda Ardern, the country's prime minister, in an online statement. "Today's announcement will be a welcome boost for our tourism operators."

According to the southwestern Pacific country's website, all travelers will need to be fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, which can be either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

USA Today reports that travelers will also need to "show proof of a negative pre-departure coronavirus test to enter and will be provided two free at-home rapid antigen tests upon arrival. The first test should be taken on the day of arrival and the second should be taken on day five or six." Any traveler or citizen who tests positive for the virus must go into a managed isolation and quarantine.

Last year, the country announced that travelers likely wouldn't be able to enter the country until 2022. Its reopening comes just as the country is having a surge of COVID-19 cases. New Zealand has even been moved to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Avoid Travel list as of March 7, 2022. The CDC is warning travelers to only go to New Zealand if necessarily and to be fully vaccinated before traveling.

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.