'Practical things need to be in place' before opening a Cook Islands travel bubble - Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has again dampened down the expectations of New Zealanders keen to travel to the Cook Islands, saying more needs to be done to protect the border before an international travel bubble can be established.

Despite the Cook Islands government announcing on Monday that it is expecting to confirm an 'air bridge' with New Zealand within the next week, Ardern says nothing has been confirmed with any country at this stage.

The air bridge concept would allow people to travel between the two countries without need for quarantine. 

"I have no set dates yet for any reopening of borders with realm countries and to say that we have dates yet would be premature, but I am continuing my conversations with the Cook Islands and with others," the Prime Minister said on Wednesday.

Arden said there are practical issues that need to be sorted and put in place before any travel restrictions change. 

"At the moment, our airports don't separate individuals who we might be certain are COVID-19 free from those who are not. We would need very strong physical barriers, different staff interacting with different groups. There are a number of practical things that need to be in place."

Newly appointed opposition leader Judith Collins said she sees no reason why travel between the two countries shouldn't be happening.

"I would've thought [we should have an air bridge already]. Cook Islands has no COVID-19, Samoa has no COVID-19. If they want to have a travel bubble with us, why wouldn't we?" Collins told Magic Talk.

On Tuesday, real estate agent Mike Pero revealed he is in negotiations with a "well known, global airline" to begin charter services between Christchurch and Rarotonga.

"In desperation to get something going, I took it upon myself to find out what was available in the way of charter flights and we are very close to bringing together a deal with a recognised airline," Pero told Newshub.

"It's not Air NZ. I wanted it to be Air NZ, but they don't have the resources," he said.