Fully vaccinated individuals from low-risk nations will soon be able to set foot in New Zealand next year.
New Zealand is a place you must visit if ever given the chance to. It is one of the most isolated countries in the world and also one of the most popular tourist destinations among nature-loving jetsetters. No surprise; after all, The Land of The Long White Cloud is so diverse that it sets the perfect scene for any holiday, catering to travellers with different inclinations.
From the peaks of the Southern Alps, to the coastal communities of Nelson, to the cosmopolitan beat of Auckland and the cool vibes of Wellington, the country’s vastly different landscapes offer tranquillity and adventure, fun and relaxation, all at once.
New Zealand to open borders to fully vaccinated travellers in 2022
After more than a year of travel restrictions, things are starting to look a little more hopeful as more vaccine rollouts have been inoculated worldwide the past few months.
When it comes to crisis control, New Zealand has been on top of its game during the pandemic, closing its borders since 19 March 2020 – and for good reason. With one of the lowest reported case numbers in the world, with only 2,919 cases and 26 deaths (as of 16 August 2021), New Zealand has successfully and consistently controlled the spread of Covid-19 and is now ready to open its borders, albeit carefully.
Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced on 12 August 2021 that the government will be establishing a new “individual risk-based model for quarantine-free travel” in the first quarter of next year, as reported by The Straits Times. This would allow fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries entry into New Zealand.
“We cannot keep border restrictions on forever. And to be absolutely clear, we don’t want to do that either,” shares Prime Minister Arden in her press conference on 12 August 2021. “Border closures were only ever a temporary measure in order to keep Covid out before was developed and administered.”
The country has also planned to ramp up its vaccination efforts, offering vaccines to all eligible ages by 1 September 2021. It also aims to shorten the dosage gap to ensure more citizens are at least partially vaccinated, seeing the increased Delta variant infections worldwide.
With only about 23.3-percent of its population vaccinated as of 16 August 2021, the country plans to increase this to at least 80-percent before its borders can be fully relaxed.
With the light dawning upon leisure travel, here are some must-visit, #travelgram destinations and places around New Zealand to add to your travel bucket list as we all cross our fingers.
Must-visit places + destinations in New Zealand
Explore the serene and rocky terrain of New Zealand’s coast, all while getting friendly with a colony of wild New Zealand fur seals. Commonly found on the rocky shores of Chatham Islands and sub-Antarctic islands, these wild fur seals feed on squid and mid-water fish. They’re also known to dive deeper and longer than any other fur seals.
Try Wild Wellington Nature’s Seal Colony Half-Day Tour. The three-hour tour package includes a free pick up from the hotel, morning/afternoon tea and a four-wheel drop-off in your accommodation in Central Wellington.
If you’re a nature-lover, you would not want to miss the Malborough region situated at the north-eastern tip of South Island. This area is known for its scenic sights, coastal waterways and wine valleys.
Book a Hobbit Kayak Tour with Pelorus Eco Adventures where you’ll get to drift down the crystal-clear Pelorus river paddling your own canoe and learn about the history of the area. You’d also get to explore the locations of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and pass the same waterfall as Bilbo and his friends.
Onsen Hot Pools is the only dedicated hot pool complex in Queenstown. The gorgeous boutique spa is nestled high on a cliffside overlooking the magnificent Shotover River Canyon, this means nothing short of breath-taking views of the alpine scenery. Its cedar hot tubs are heated to approximately 38.5-degrees using only the purest spring waters from surrounding mountains. With its recent win in the 2019 World Luxury Spa Awards, the service you’ll receive here is almost second to none in the region.
Christchurch was devastated by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, but its vibrant heritage town has been undergoing extensive rebuilding efforts to restore it to its former glory. Look out for the Christchurch Tramway, the city’s beautifully restored heritage trams and one of its best-loved attractions Another way to explore the city is through the Rebuild Bike Tour, which allows you to explore places most cars are unable to reach. The tour also takes you to landmarks around the city, where you get to learn about the innovative efforts by the community to reconstruct the city and more.
Book a tour from Christchurch Bike Tours! Besides the Rebuild Tour, a Farmers’ Market Bike Tour, a Gourmet Bike Tour and walking tours are also available.
Foodies, this one’s for you. “Normal ice cream is boring” at Giapo – an Auckland an ice cream parlour – and so it boasts handmade ice cream, gelato and sorbet with a creative and adventurous flair. You can hold your chosen flavours in innovative ways, such as in a Wearable Cone, a Selfie Cone and a Yorkshire Pudding lined with milk chocolate. Hardcore fans say this place serves the best ice cream in Auckland; nay, in New Zealand.
Wine lovers, you do not want to miss Waiheke Island. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, it is home to over a dozen of vineyards, many of whom offer wine-tasting sessions to visitors all year round.
A must-see for The Lord of the Rings fans, the home of the Hobbits in New Zealand is a definite must-add to your bucket list. Nestled in the gentle and lush prairies of New Zealand’s North Island, the Hobbiton movie set was a significant location used for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series. It is mainly served by guided tours, which will cover every aspect of this magical place. The most famous attraction is of course the hobbit holes, which might just inspire you to design your own home to match its warm and comfortable interior.
Also, as the only commercial tea plantation in New Zealand, consider stopping by Zealong Tea Estate, an idyllic and serene site producing 100-percent organic, locally grown award-winning tea. Take a tour around its grounds to learn more about tea growing and have a meal at The Tea House, with dishes either infused with tea or specially designed to complement the brew. Or, plan a visit to Alphra Lavenders, a stunning lavender farm popular with tourists seeking for that picture-perfect Pinterest-inspired ‘gram shot.
7. Ride the TranzAlpine train
Slow it down with a ride on the TranzAlpine, which will not only allow you to take a breather and have a leisurely cuppa onboard, but will also offer you majestic views. There’s a reason why it’s often described as New Zealand’s most scenic train rides: You’ll get to take in the sights of epic vistas, stunning mountains and see the vast Canterbury Plains as you travel between Christchurch and Greymouth. Head here to book a seat.
8. Mount Cook National Park
As we’ve already seen, New Zealand is not lacking in picturesque backdrops for the ‘gram. But make sure the Mount Cook National Park is at the top of your list. Home to the highest mountains and the longest glaciers in New Zealand, it boasts spectacular views of pristine and untouched landscapes, towering peaks, icy glaciers and snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky. It’s also ideal for climbers seeking for a challenge at climbing Mount Cook.
9. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Nothing says otherworldly more than luminescent worms hanging from a limestone cave while you look up from a boat in a river. Waitomo, derived from the Maori words for “water” and “hole in the ground”, can be explored either via walking or a guided boat tour. Either way, in the immersive darkness of the cave, the wonders of the glowing worms will touch you like a shooting star. If you’re feeling up to it, there are tours that include abseiling, climbing and water rafting.
Sign up with Underworld Adventures or Discover Waitomo, where you get to meander through an ancient cave network and marvel at the thousands of magical glow worms which are unique to New Zealand. Mother Nature at its finest.
A coastal town on the South Island of New Zealand, Kaikoura is known for its abundant wildlife and its sperm whale population and is another spot everyone should visit. Hang out with seals and eat seafood alongside beautiful beaches during sunset, or go for its marine tours where you get to encounter dolphins or whales, or explore its varied majestic landscapes from rugged coastlines to mountain ranges on a two-wheeler.
For something even more adventurous, take a helicopter tour which will give a unique perspective as you soar above the resident sperm whales, dusky dolphins and fur seals.
A city located on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, Nelson is the oldest city in the South Island and the second-oldest in New Zealand. Nelson Lakes National Park is a must-visit if you ever get to go here. Think stunning alpine landscape, glacial lakes and unperturbed forests. Nelson Lakes National Park is home to the start of the South Alps, after being sculpted my massive glaciers during the recent ice ages. Till today, many of these glacial landforms remain, with Rotoiti and Rotoroa alpine lakes being some of the iconic ones.
Or, head to Kahurangi National Park (“Kahurangi” meaning treasured possession in Moari), where you’ll find the limestone stalactites-laden Moria Gate Arch – another iconic film site used during The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Extra trip for fellow LOTR die-hard fans? Visit Jens Hansen Studio at the city centre’s Trafalgar Square, which is home to varied designs of Sauron’s One Ring.