The Prime Minister has reiterated her commitment to opening up a trans-Tasman bubble and says travel could occur during alert level 2.
Jacinda Ardern says she spoke with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday morning and they're both at a phase of easing restrictions and slowly opening up, but the bubble would only happen if it could be done safely.
She anticipates Australia would be the first country New Zealand would open its borders to, and then Pacific nations would be considered.
"We have said, between Prime Minister Morrison and myself, that we would look to the trans-Tasman bubble as a way of entering back into international travel, but also making sure that we get those border settings right. But we have also acknowledged that there is a place in the future for then opening up to the Pacific," Ardern said on Tuesday.
"One thing I'm very mindful of, not all Pacific Island neighbours see this in the same way. I know there's a lot of caution, rightly so, from the likes of Samoa."
She says the trans-Tasman bubble can occur while New Zealand is in alert level 2, and believes potentially opening up to another country will help measure whether the COVID-19 border controls are adequate.
"We've made a balanced decision, one that weighs up our desire to open up the economy but also not to risk going backwards.
"[But] it's not just about opening up travel, it's about testing our settings at the border, making sure we get it right."
Australia signalled on Monday it may open its borders to New Zealand state-by-state, meaning Kiwis could fly to Melbourne or Sydney, but the Sunshine Coast would still be off-limits. This is because Queensland has insisted to keep strict border controls in place. Only travel for freight and business purposes is allowed, but borders are closed to all other forms of travel.
Australia's Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says their country will move forward with the trans-Tasman bubble scheme "as soon as it's safe", and it will do it without Queensland if required.
"New Zealand is obviously the first, and right now only, international market that we could safely agree to open up to," Birmingham told The Sydney Morning Herald.
"If New Zealand and some Australian states are ready and willing to progress, then the reluctance of other states to open up their domestic borders shouldn't become an obstacle to progress.
"The recovery of jobs and small businesses in some states shouldn't be held back by the decisions of other state governments."