Trans-Tasman 'bubble' could happen during COVID-19 alert level 2 - Winston Peters

The Deputy Prime Minister says because New Zealand and our Australian cousins are "beating the crap" out of coronavirus so successfully, restrictions on trans-Tasman travel could be lifted as soon as alert level 2. 

But it seems to contradict the official alert level 2 rules and under Winston Peters' plan, Australian arrivals wouldn't even need to be quarantined.

The idea is to let Kiwis and Australians cross the ditch creating a trans-Tasman 'bubble', which Peters said could happen "as soon as we can possibly guarantee the security on both sides of the border". 

 And he thinks that "could happen at level 2".

The official Government advice is clear: At alert level 2 people should avoid non-essential travel, and that's just within New Zealand.

"When you think about some of the outbreaks we've had, it's often been that regional movement that's been problematic for us," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

But Peters seems to disagree. He thinks it's safe because we're smashing the virus.

"We're not going to eradicate it, but we're beating the crap out of it, and so is Australia."

And any trans-Tasman 'bubble' he designed would be quarantine free.

"In that circumstance of non-community transmission, we're able to do this without any quarantine requirement."

Again, that's out of step with the Prime Minister. When asked on Monday whether Australians would have to be quarantined upon arrival in New Zealand, she said that would be a "very likely prospect".

But Peters says he doesn't see that working.  

"The moment you put in a 14-day quarantine requirement, forget it, it's not going to work."

Alert level 2 could be as little as two weeks away, and with ski season on the horizon, Queenstown desperately wants Australians - who make up 55 percent of New Zealand's tourism market - back in.

Peters is giving them a glimmer of hope.

"The Snowy Mountains are not a great place for skiing compared to New Zealand in the South Island, so we've got a chance here."

The Snowy Mountains are in New South Wales and contain the Australian mainland's highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko.

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult is sceptical about the trans-Tasman bubble happening any time soon but says it would be welcomed.

"I think it might be a bit of a stretch, but look, anything's possible, and we just simply need it, so if there's a way it can be done, we'd really love it to happen."

NZ Ski CEO Paul Anderson had a similar response. 

"It is a surprise to hear those ideas being talked about, but you know, we would welcome it wholeheartedly if it happened."

While it was music to the ears in Queenstown, it was news to the ears of both trans-Tasman leaders.

"I would hope that would mean our ability to have movement between our countries but that is a longer-term goal," Ardern said on Thursday.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said, "I can't see international travel occurring anytime soon."