COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday border restrictions will begin to ease from 11:59pm on January 16, 2022.
Fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens in Australia will be allowed to enter from that date with no need to secure a place in the managed isolation program (MIQ).
However, they will still be required to self-isolate for seven days after arriving in New Zealand.
Travellers will also have to return a negative test before departure, provide proof of vaccination, complete a passenger travel history declaration, take a test after arrival and another before leaving self-isolation.
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Mr Hipkins detailed when travellers can enter New Zealand without going into MIQ:   
Step 1 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current settings from Australia from 11.59 pm on 16 January 2022 (provided they have been in Australia or New Zealand for the past 14 days)
Step 2 – opening to fully vaccinated New Zealand citizens and those residence-class visa holders and other travellers eligible under our current border settings, from all but Very High-Risk countries, from 11.59pm Sunday 13 February.
Step 3 – opening to fully vaccinated foreign nationals (possibly staged by visa category), from 30 April onwards.
New Zealand shut its international border in March 2020 due to the pandemic as the country embarked on COVID-zero strategy.
However, an outbreak of the Delta variant in August led Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to acknowledge “the return to zero is incredibly difficult”.
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Wednesday’s announcement aligns with comments Ms Ardern made in August when she indicated New Zealand’s border would remain closed until the beginning of 2022.
“We are making this announcement today to give families, businesses, visitors and airline and airport companies certainty and time to prepare. It’s very encouraging that as a country we are now in a position to move towards greater normality,” Mr Hipkins said. 
“We always said we’d open in a controlled way, and this started with halving the time spent in MIQ to seven days.
“Retaining a seven-day isolate at home period for fully vaccinated travellers is an important phase in the reconnecting strategy to provide continued safety assurance. These settings will continue to be reviewed against the risk posed by travellers entering New Zealand.” 
Air New Zealand on Tuesday cancelled 1,000 flights to Australia due to “continued border uncertainty”, with about 20,000 people expected to be affected by the cancellations through to December 31. 
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Mr Hipkins said while the government acknowledged there were calls for the border to reopen for Christmas, New Zealand needed to be “careful” in relaxing restrictions on international travel.    
“Some people and businesses want us to start to open up before Christmas, and that’s understandable, but others want us to be more cautious. We acknowledge it’s been tough but the end of heavily restricted travel is now in sight,” he said.
“There continues to be a global pandemic with cases surging in Europe and other parts of the world, so we do need to be very careful when reopening the border.
“In the end, we’ve done what we’ve always done, and that is to follow expert advice – which continues to show us the border is our biggest risk for new cases.” 

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