As miserable weather starts to settle in across the country, New Zealanders will be able to have the perfect island escape.
New Zealanders can now officially travel to the Cook Islands. Just like the trans-Tasman bubble, the agreement allows people to freely fly between each country without quarantine or mandatory Covid-19 tests at either end.
Despite the bubble officially opening today, the first flight from Auckland Airport to Rarotonga won’t take off until tomorrow morning. And it’ll be a slow but steady start to the bubble, with Air New Zealand only operating two to three flights a week, most of which are families returning home.
But this will steadily ramp up to daily flights in June and July as tourist bookings increase, just in time for school holidays.
The Cook Islands has not reported a single case of Covid-19 during the pandemic, but if a Covid-19 case emerges from New Zealand there are three different levels of response for the bubble: continue, pause and suspend.
Continue: Quarantine-free travel will continue because there is a low risk of transmission.
Pause: If a case emerges at the border and the source is unknown, the affected areas will have short-term lockdowns and flights from these areas will be temporarily paused. Travellers may be asked to get a pre-departure test before leaving, or they may need to self-isolate or go into managed isolation on arrival.
Suspend: If the situation escalates and there is a risk of further transmission, the Cook Islands may close their borders and suspend the bubble.
Unlike the trans-Tasman agreement, travellers who flew from New Zealand will not be stranded if the bubble is suspended. This is because Kiwis in the Cook Islands will likely not have secure accommodation, as many would in Australia, so they would be helped home to reduce pressure on the Cook Islands and minimise the spread of the virus. Travellers are warned to be prepared for every phase.
Australians who want to travel to the Cook Islands will have to stay in New Zealand for 14 days before departing. Travellers can not depart if they tested positive for Covid-19 in the 14 days prior or if they are awaiting test results.
Otherwise, normal immigration rules apply. Travellers can stay up to 31 days without a visa, as long as they have evidence of a return ticket.