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Homecnbc travelNew Zealand had one of the world's strictest Covid lockdowns. Now its...

New Zealand had one of the world’s strictest Covid lockdowns. Now its borders are fully reopening

After more than two years, New Zealand is fully reopening its borders and welcoming back all international travelers.

The country is reopening on July 31, some three months earlier than previously announced.

Earlier this year, New Zealand's borders were opened to Australians and citizens of 60 places that do not need visas to enter, including Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In 2021, New Zealand had some of the world's strictest pandemic restrictions, including lockdowns triggered by a single Covid case, extensive testing and numerous public health mandates.

Its largest city Auckland was on lockdown for 107 days, from August to December 2021, due to outbreaks of the highly infectious delta variant. 

Many curbs have been lifted, but requirements to enter New Zealand remain stringent. Here's what to know before you visit.

The rules 

With the exception of New Zealand citizens and Australians living in the country, visitors are required to provide proof of vaccination to enter, according to the government's Covid information page. 

Both electronic and paper vaccination certificates are acceptable. 

Travelers need to do a rapid antigen test on their arrival date — although not necessary upon arrival at the airport — and a second one on the fifth or sixth day of their trip, according to New Zealand's Ministry of Health. 

Masks aren't required outdoors, but they're required indoors, such as in museums, supermarkets and pharmacies. 

Cheapest time to visit 

Despite inflation in New Zealand hitting a 32-year high of 7.3% earlier this month, Navigate Travel said prices of tours, activities and accommodations are the same price, if not cheaper, than what they were before the pandemic.

"(A holiday in) New Zealand's very cheap at the moment … Other than air travel, there's never been a cheaper time to come," said Daniel Painter, the travel agency's managing director. 

Since it was announced in May that the country's borders would fully reopen at the end of July, there has been strong interest from travelers to visit, said Tourism New Zealand. 

"Online searches for international flights to New Zealand (are) up 39% since the announcement was made, compared to pre-Covid searches," said Gregg Wafelbakker, the tourism body's general manager for Asia. More than 60% of this interest is coming from Australia, he said.

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