When will New Zealand be open to visitors from the USA?

I've recently returned from a visit to New Zealand. From the many conversations I had with government and tourism authorities while I was there, I've been able to form some opinions about when New Zealand might reopen their borders to visitors from the USA. In this blog we provide some background to the thinking of the New Zealand government about what will happen over the coming year.

At the moment (February 2021) New Zealand remains closed to all but New Zealand passport holders and permanent New Zealand residents. 2-weeks of quarantine are mandatory for all arrivals.

The country remains on Covid-19 Level 1, the lowest category of four.


Wairarapa Coast, North Island

The Future of travel to New Zealand.

Of course the closing of the borders has made it an extremely difficult time for the local tourist industry. A huge effort has gone into promoting New Zealand to New Zealanders, encouraging them to see more of their own country and this has been very successful. But in a country with a population of under 5-million this is obviously not a long term solution. So there's tremendous pressure by the tourism industry to re-open the borders just as soon as they can.

Since March 2020 there have been ongoing attempts to create exclusive travel "bubbles" between New Zealand and selected countries, those that have demonstrated success in controlling Covid-19. Allowing Australian tourists to visit New Zealand has been the main focus of these efforts, but to date, random outbreaks of the virus in some Australian states has seen the implementation of a "bubble" stymied. 

Once Australia is fully up and running, the next potential "bubble" will probably be between New Zealand and selected Asian countries like Singapore and Taiwan, countries that have had success in controlling their Covid-19 outbreaks. This will be followed by opening the borders to selected South Pacific islands like Fiji and Samoa.

Unfortunately, allowing visitors from Europe and the US will be at the bottom of the list and the current thinking, even with a vaccine in place, is that we won't be seeing visitors from the US or Europe before early 2022 at the very earliest.


The historic village of Arrowtown, South Island

So when will visitors from the US be able to visit New Zealand?

Two weeks ago, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand will remain closed to overseas visitors for the rest of 2021.

It seems certain that when the borders reopen, the New Zealand government will insist on arrivals carrying an internationally recognized document attesting to the fact they have the Covid-19 vaccine. Will the US government have completed their vaccination program by the end of 2021 and have a system in place to issue verifiable Covid-19 documents? Only time will tell.

What we are seeing on the ground in New Zealand at the moment, is that many potential overseas visitors have anticipated New Zealand re-opening by January or February 2022, in fact, it's already becoming difficult to find accommodation in some places over these months.

Taking all of the above into account, we recommend that March 2020 would be a sensible time to think about making a visit. 

New outbreaks and mutations of the Covid-19 virus might interfere with this prediction, but the pendulum is definitely swinging in the right direction.

Best of all, March is a wonderful time, late summer, to make a visit.


Air New Zealand Airbus A320 neo flying over New Zealand's Southern Alps.

We will continue to update this blog, but call us anytime on our Santa Barbara, Ca number, 805-451-9325 or email [email protected] if you have any specific questions.

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Feb 15, 2021