Australia is not having fun right now, at least certainly not when it comes to travel.

The country was successful in limiting worst outcomes during the early days of the pandemic by largely closing off from the world and entering states of emergency, but leadership in the Australian Government underestimated the importance of vaccines, which now appear to be the only real way “out”.

After being the envy of many last year, with life largely back to “normal”, Australia is back in intense lockdowns as the rest of the world reopens, declaring a new state of emergency this week. In response, New Zealand is shutting the door on Australia’s only travel bubble.

Australia – New Zealand Travel Bubble Bursts, Again

The travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand provided the only glimmer of international travel hope for Australians during much of the covid-19 pandemic.

Skiing in Queenstown or Sauvignon Blanc on Waiheke made it easy enough to forget that an Australian passport was more of an idea than a reality over the last 18 months, with quarantine free travel between the two Pacific nations.

With the exception of the bubble, outbound travel is effectively banned from Australia, and even citizens and residents are struggling to return to the Pacific nation, with a bizarre new government limit on arrivals.

Now, that glimmer is a distant memory, as New Zealand shuts the door on the travel bubble, yet again from Friday, July 23rd.

New Zealand says it’s protecting hard earned gains against the pandemic by closing off to Australia. Quashing any hopes for an imminent return of the bubble, Australia has one of the the worst vaccination rates among all leading nations.

Without advanced warning, New Zealand unilaterally ended quarantine free travel for Australians, and will require New Zealanders currently in Australia to return on “green flights” with added precautions in place.

New Zealanders returning from New South Wales will be required to quarantine in a government facility for 14 days, while other arrivals will be required to test before departure and after arrival.

The bubble had previously been burst from select Australian territories, but is now deflated on a nationwide basis and will remain that way for a review period of at least 8 weeks, until a new assessment is made. Until vaccinations ramp up, it’s hard to see Australia reopening international travel on any level, any time soon. 2023, maybe?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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15 Comments

  1. What will be the economic fallout from both AUS and NZ’s atrocious (at best unrealistic) response to COVID? I wouldn’t be surprised if this didn’t dramatically impact both countries’ tourism for the next decade. Incredible, really.

    1. I think New Zealand loses out less. The country had already been looking to tackle over tourism, so reopening slowly and sustainably will be easier. For Australia, with cities largely dependent on international business travel, banking and tourism, it’ll be a longer road to recover. Losses too great to add up.

  2. Scomo is a legend and has done an awesome job keeping the Nation safe. You only continually attack Australia because you want a piece of our normal life in Perth. Restriction FREE!
    Iron Ore at over $200 ton and we export millions and I mean millions of tons of the ore. This is why we can wait without infected tourists entering.

  3. Maybe but you have over 600,000 dead with infections predicted to be over 45,000 a day and 4000 deaths a day. You’re delusional. It’s not much better in the UK. Dark days are about to descend on you soon while I enjoy my restriction free lifestyle in Perth.

  4. Yes, we’ve spent the last year+ operating as eight colonies with ScoMo at the helm ruining things for everyone. Yet he and Palaszczuk can head overseas (UK and Japan) for sketchy reasons, of course, while we’ve been stuck here in prison.

    I’m in Victoria, life over the last year has been anything but relatively normal (although I appreciate the rest of Australia’s been largely unscathed, until now). Despite also holding UK & IE citizenship, I’ve been unable to leave this prison since March 2020.

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