Kiwi exodus as quarantine-free travel opens up the border

The opening of quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia on November 1 sparked an exodus of Kiwis leaving the country.

According to Stats NZ, the number of people crossing Aotearoa's border went up substantially from October, largely due to an increase in departures.

There were 28,700 border crossings in November, with 12,300 arrivals and 16,400 departures, the latter representing a 67 percent increase month on month.

Most of those who left were Kiwis, Stats NZ said, with Chinese, Australian and Indian citizens also departing in large numbers.

Border crossings include all arrivals and departures, either for short-term trips or longer-term migration, by people living overseas or in New Zealand.

"Historically, travel numbers tend to increase toward the end of the year, and provisional data for December 2021 shows a further increase in the number of border crossings," population indicators manager Tehseen Islam said.

"Although levels overall are well below those before the COVID-19 pandemic."

The impact of COVID-19 is even more obvious when the year to November is looked at in comparison with the previous year.

There were 207,000 overseas visitors arrivals in the November 2021 year, down from 1.3 million in the November 2020 year - a drop of 84 percent.

The biggest dip was arrivals from Australia, down nearly 400,000 in the year, while visitors from the United States (175,000) and the United Kingdom (129,000) also dropped substantially.

Quarantine-free travel with Australia has since been suspended due to the prevalance of the Omicron variant.