Quarantine free travel to New Zealand

Information on this page can be attributed to a managed isolation and quarantine spokesperson.

Quarantine-free travel is expected to “free up” a maximum of 1,000-1,300 rooms in MIQ facilities each fortnight.

What is quarantine-free travel

Quarantine-free travel means people entering New Zealand are not required to enter a managed isolation facility for 14 days. MIQ therefore cancelled MIQ vouchers for those who are now eligible for quarantine-free travel.

As part of managing any potential changes to quarantine-free travel, an additional 500 rooms per fortnight (on top of MIQ’s usual operating contingency) are being held back as as a contingency.

Setting aside 500 rooms will decrease the overall MIQ operational capacity from approximately 4,500 rooms a fortnight to 4,000 rooms a fortnight.

This will assist with the changing MIQ operating environment as lower risk travellers from Australia are “replaced” by travellers from higher risk points of origin. They also provide additional capacity in the event of some travellers needing to go into MIQ at very short notice (i.e. their plane is already in transit when a suspension is imposed).

In the event of a pause or suspension of quarantine free travel, it is expected that thousands of New Zealanders and Australians would have their travel impacted. The 500 rooms are not intended to be the primary response to such an event, but would only be used if other responses (such as shelter in place or self-isolation) were not appropriate.

When quarantine-free travel is paused

The introduction of quarantine-free travel saw the introduction of ‘green’ flights and ‘red’ flights, with each being managed in different areas of the airport. This is to enable quarantine-free travellers to remain separate from all other travellers at all times. 

As a result of the introduction of quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia, airlines are no longer operating "red flights" from Australia to New Zealand. This means even if travellers want to go into MIQ during a pause, they will not be able to get a flight. Therefore, travellers will not be able to book vouchers for MIQ. MIQ vouchers are not needed because they will not be able to travel to New Zealand. 

When quarantine-free travel is paused, there will be no flights arriving into New Zealand from the affected state. This means people will need to stay in place at their current location and follow the instructions from the relevant state or territory they are in. They may also be required upon their return to undertake a period of self-isolation, or be required to enter MIQ.

It is a traveller’s responsibility to prepare for, and be able to manage, any disruption to quarantine-free travel due to COVID-19.

If their travel plans are disrupted, travellers will need to contact their airline to make different travel arrangements.

Current suspension of quarantine-free travel with Australia

Returnees in all states except NSW, who meet eligibility criteria, will have 7 days to return to New Zealand from 23 July. They will not need to enter MIQ. Depending on demand this could be extended for a short period.

After the 7-day return flight window, people will need to book their own MIQ space and red-flight when they come available. They will need to go into a managed isolation facility for 14 days.

There is currently limited capacity in MIQ so this means there are going to be some New Zealanders who may have to shelter-in-place in Australia for an extended period of time.

There is limited capacity in MIQ due to New Zealanders returning from New South Wales having to go into MIQ along with travellers from the rest of the world. MIQ has used contingency allocations to enable the recent increase in returnees.

MIQ have released all available vouchers for July and there is very limited space available for August. We are currently assessing options for availability of rooms for September to November.  Vouchers for December will be released once airlines have confirmed their schedules.

MIQ is working through options and timing for when further MIQ rooms will come available but further rooms in MIQ are not likely to be available in the short-medium term with the current high bookings and significant demand.

Travellers should monitor the Unite against COVID-19 website for up-to-date information:

Travel with Australia(external link) — Unite against COVID-19

Last updated: 28 July 2021