New Zealand Finally Welcomes Back Its Australian Neighbors


New Zealand, one of the final places in the world to drop a Covid-zero policy, today opened its borders to vaccinated Australian visitors after being mostly closed for more than two years.

It’s a welcome boost for the decimated tourism industry, which accounted for 5.5% of the economy prior to the pandemic, according to Tourism Industry Aotearoa. Australians comprised about 40% of visitors, and about 50% during ski season, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said on Australian television Wednesday.

“It’s more than just economic for us,” Ardern told the Sunrise show. “It’s a big part of who we are, is welcoming people to our shores,” she said, describing Australians as New Zealand’s “extended family.”

More than 4,000 customers will board Air New Zealand flights today, as border restrictions between the neighboring countries lift, it said in a statement. The airline is adding 20,000 more seats on 96 extra flights through to June to meet demand for flights in the the upcoming ski season, it said.