Travel to the Cook Islands is opening just in time for winter. 

Today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown announced the long awaited two-way quarantine-free travel will open on 17 May.

“Two way quarantine-free travel is a significant step in both countries’ COVID-19 recovery, and a direct result of both New Zealand and the Cook Islands’ successful response to the pandemic,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement on Monday afternoon. 

“It will mean families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume and Kiwis can take a much-welcomed winter break and support the Cook Islands’ tourism sector and recovery.”

There will be no requirement for pre-departure tests, but there will be random health checks at airports. Ardern said vaccinations will provide an “added layer of protection” for both countries once rolled out. 

Australians who want to travel to the Cook Islands from New Zealand will have to stay in New Zealand for 14 days before they can depart. 

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said the travel bubble was “the result of our uncompromising commitment” to the highest standards of protection against Covid-19.

“I acknowledge with deepest gratitude our people’s continued trust in our leadership and the whole of society endeavour to keep our people safe from the virus,” he said. 

“Today we start our journey of recovery. Today we get back to business. Today with our joint confirmation of the 17 May, we give our people, and particularly our industry, the certainty necessary to institute remaining preparatory steps to once more welcome visitors to our shores.”

The bubble is awaiting final approval from New Zealand Director-General of Health and the Cook Islands Secretary of Te Marae Ora – Ministry of Health. Final criteria such as airline and airport preparedness and health protocols will also need to meet specific criteria before the bubble opens in 14 days time.