New Zealand's international border swings open to all visitors after COVID slammed them shut

Cruise ships, international students and people from across the world will now be able to visit Aotearoa.
Cruise ships, international students and people from across the world will now be able to visit Aotearoa. Photo credit: Getty Images

For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has kept Aotearoa's international borders tightly sealed, and today they have swung right back open. 

The opening of borders means a return of all visitors including those from non-visa waiver countries, international students, cruise ships and recreational yachts.

Since April our Aussie neighbours have been able to holiday in Aotearoa which Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said has been "great" for our recovery.

"We're seeing a strong uptick in arrivals from Australia and the US, with Queenstown, in particular, receiving a surge in visitors."

Minister Nash said in a statement the change in border settings on Sunday is the final milestone of reconnecting Aotearoa with the rest of the world. 

"This is great news to the tourism industry and the economy as we approach spring and summer with people from the Northern hemisphere booking their winter holidays."

He said tourism operators are ready and excited to welcome back international visitors from across the globe. 

Nash highlighted the return of cruise ships will help local community economies. 

"Pre-pandemic their visits were worth in excess of $500 million a year, of which $356 million was spent onshore, providing a valuable economic contribution to our regions," Nash said.

"Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. This means it will be full steam ahead for the industry who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond."

Immigration Minister Michael Wood said before the pandemic struck the international education sector was worth several billion dollars.

"While we've continued to support the sector with border exceptions through the pandemic, the full resumption of visa processing is great news for our universities, polytechnics and wānanga, and schools, English language schools, and private training establishments."