Kiwis travelling to South Africa will be denied entry at the border unless they travel to Wellington to obtain a visa first.

The decision to end a 20-year visa-free travel arrangement between the two countries was announced on Tuesday as a direct response to Immigration New Zealand denying entry to South African travellers without visas.

The South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba told Fairfax that New Zealand's visa requirement, which began last month, had created "inconveniences" for South Africans.

Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa. Photo / File
Table Mountain, Capetown, South Africa. Photo / File

"As well as the reputational risks of being perceived as unsafe by some countries."

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Gigaba told Fairfax that South Africa's visa policy is based on the principle of reciprocity, so the decision was made to withdraw the visa exemption enjoyed by Kiwi passport holders in response to Immigration New Zealand's actions.

New Zealanders heading to South Africa are now required to obtain a visa from the South African High Commission in Wellington prior to travelling.

The policy will come into effect after January 16.

Visas cost $90 and work permits are $300, according to the South African High Commission's website.

Lion at Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Photo / File
Lion at Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa. Photo / File

Immigration New Zealand's decision came as a result of an increase in the number of South African nationals who have been refused entry at the border in comparison to other visa waiver countries

Department manager Peter Elms told Fairfax that 193 South African passport holders were denied entry between January and May this year, up 38 per cent from last year.

The visa-free movement between the countries, for visits no longer than three months, began in 1996.