At midnight on Sunday, July 31, New Zealand's border will finally fully open to all visitors, thus providing the much-needed economic boost to the education & tourism sectors with the return of international students and the restart of cruise ships.
After 2 years and 4 months of the COVID border restrictions, the Government of NZ will put in place the final step of the "reconnecting plan", enabling travelers from non-visa waiver countries to apply for a visa and enter New Zealand.
Earlier this week, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash and Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced the border would be fully reopened at 11:59 p.m. on July 31.
Nash said that while visitors from "key markets" like Australia and the United States have been able to travel to NZ from April 2022 and shown a "strong uptick in arrivals", he expected the full reopening would properly set the tourism industry on the road to recovery.
July 31 also marks the opening of NZ's maritime border to cruise ships, specialist, and recreational vessels like ocean-going yachts.
Nash said the return of cruise ships was another boost for local communities. Pre-COVID their visits had been worth in excess of $500 million per year, of which $356 million was spent onshore, providing an economic contribution to the regions.
"Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. This means it will be full steam ahead for the industry, who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond."