New Zealand has closed its borders to all but its citizens since March, 2020. A zero-tolerance policy was taken toward Covid early in the pandemic, with a 2 week quarantine mandated by the government. Those Kiwis returning to the country needed to serve their isolation in approved hotels immediately upon arrival. For more information see this Link.
New Zealand had less that 3000 cases of Covid 19, with only 26 total deaths. The 2 week quarantine system for returning New Zealanders remains for those coming from parts of the world outside of Australia and the Cook Islands. A two-way travel "bubble" is in place between Australia and New Zealand since April 2021.
New Zealand does not have resources to manufacture vaccinations. It relies on purchasing from companies based in the US and Europe. To date (June 2021) 200k people have been fully vaccinated in New Zealand. The hope is that by the end of 2021 anyone who wants to be vaccinated will have received access to the shots.
Since the Trans-Tasman bubble between New Zealand and Australia began there have been a series of starts and stops. Initially travel was one-way (with Kiwis having the ability to enter Australia and not quarantine) and then the bubble opened for true two-way travel in April, 2021.
When there are cases of Covid in either country, as in the case of Melbourne recently (May, 2021) with 30+ cases, the other country halts all flights. Most recently in-bound flights have been halted from Victoria into New Zealand. This is a one-way block, as Aussies visiting New Zealand have the ability to travel home, but any Kiwis in the state of Victoria are unfortunately stuck until the halt on flights is lifted
New Zealand does not manufacture Covid-19 vaccines and has decided to only approve and administer the Pfizer vaccine to Kiwis (as of June 2021). Orders have been placed, and the hope is that anyone eligible will have the ability to receive their shots by the end of 2021.
The speed of obtaining vaccine doses in New Zealand may depend on re-allocation to higher-risk locations (India) around the world & home-countries serving their own population prior to sending vaccinations overseas.
In a speech at the beginning of 2021 a tourism official estimated that 75% of the eligible Kiwi population would need to be vaccinated in order to achieve the herd immunity- the level for the Ardern administration to consider opening the borders further. With only 5 million people in the country we are optimistic that reaching this goal is possible by the end of 2021.
Most likely, New Zealand and Australia are linked in how they will handle re-opening the border. While there has been some news that Australia will not re-open until mid-2022, it seems to be most dependent upon the of distribution of vaccinations. We do not see New Zealand opening without Australia as they have a “travel bubble” and would not risk “popping” that bubble without the other.
We do not have any information if New Zealand will halt flights from the United States if there are Covid cases in the future. The situation can change very quickly and it will depend on how the Ardern administration chooses to handle the situation.
While over 40% of the US population (June 2021) is fully vaccinated, in New Zealand only 4% of the population have been fully vaccinated to date (about 200k people). This is a result of lack of access to vaccinations as well as lack of need- while the border is closed there is simply less of a need to race to vaccinate the population.
Our hope is that the country provides access to vaccinations to all who want them by the end of 2021. The US, at the height of its vaccination rollout, administered as many vaccinations as the entire population of New Zealand in a day. Currently (June 2021) there are about 1.5 million vaccinations administered every day in the US as the number tapers down. With a population of only 5 million we are hopeful that New Zealand will be able to quickly disseminate shots when they are available.
The pandemic has been brutal to the Tourism industry- in New Zealand and around the world. While other countries with large tourism business have chosen to re-open (Iceland, Maldives, etc.) operations in New Zealand have pinned their hopes on serving the domestic market and Australians.
Assistance for the tourism industry has been provided the Ardern administration through $100m+ in grants. These funds have gone to those with scale (serving a large number of tourists) or to those the government has deemed significant to a particular region.
The fact is that there are others in the industry which will not received the same level of support and will not survive. Smaller operations have been shuttered, sold and left the industry or changed their level of service. It is our team's job to stay on top of these changes in the industry and to understand the best options for our clients. We will know what to expect when travel resumes.
We anticipate when the borders are open again that the Covid pandemic will have been a bright spot for New Zealand fly fishing. The number of anglers in the country has been significantly reduced, with fish not having seen artificial flies presented to them in many months. Especially in less accessible waters, accessed via helicopter, there simply have not been people fly fishing. Fish should be fat, aggressive and "dumb" once anglers are allowed back into New Zealand.
Similar to New Zealand, Iceland is an island country with a focus on tourism. On April 6 Iceland opened its borders (no quarantine needed) to those who could show they had been fully vaccinated. Iceland at that point had roughly 7% of its own population fully vaccinated. One month later (May 2021) that number doubled (14% vax'd) and then again in June 2021 to almost 30%.
The difference between New Zealand and Iceland is, among other factors, population density, geographic locaiotn, access to vaccinations and an approved vaccine list.