An aviation body says a prediction by Air New Zealand boss Greg Foran that a transtasman travel bubble is at least six months away is ''unfortunately'' realistic.
But small ship cruise companies are hopeful they may give Kiwis some more holiday options this summer.
Justin Tighe-Umbers, co-chair of the New Zealand Aviation Coalition says the sector was ready to start flying as soon as Covid-19 case numbers allowed.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today said the transtasman bubble could be back on the table if Australia gets itself to a place where it didn't have community transmission.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has floated the idea of having a quarantine-free bubble between the South Island and Australia which he says would also allow more Australians to get home as limits on numbers were being relaxed.
Tighe-Umbers said his coalition - which represents airlines and airports - wanted to see New Zealand to Australian state-by-state travel open up as soon as possible.
''It would not only benefit all the people who work in the aviation sector, but families and friends, business people - especially those people in both countries who rely on tourism to feed their families."
He said at the moment international schedule growth remains limited by the managed isolation and quarantine accommodation capacity.
''We'd like to see the Government explore ways to expand this capacity, and look at commercial quarantine options and how they could safely benefit bringing in much-needed people for sectors such as film, international students and seasonal workers.''
Nine months into the Covid crisis which has dealt the worst financial hit to airlines in history, capacity remains 49 per cent down year-on-year. Growth stalled a month ago with the resurgence of the virus in many parts of the world.
However, small ship cruise lines are working to offer Kiwis holiday options with voyages around this country over summer and say there is strong demand for them.
New Zealand company Heritage Expeditions operates small ships and is working with Maritime NZ and other authorities to bring in a Russian-flagged vessel which has capacity for just 50 passengers.
Commercial director and expedition leader Aaron Russ said now that Covid has halted overseas travel, New Zealanders appear to be looking for unique escapes and in his company's case, look to explore the furthest reaches of this country's backyard.
The Spirit of Enderby was scheduled to depart on two seven-day voyages around Stewart Island/Rakiura and Fiordland later this year but was still awaiting approval from the Government.
Russ said the Russian flag on the vessel made gaining approval more complicated but he was hopeful the expeditions will be signed off.
"We are currently working with multiple government departments in order to allow our Southern Ocean season to proceed."
Quarantine conditions for Russian crew are 14 days at sea, but plans include testing prior and during 14 days of isolation before departure. The ship will then be at sea for 29 days en-route from Russia during which none of the crew would make landfall.
On arrival in New Zealand there would be further testing and a complete additional deep clean of the ship prior to the first expedition (as well as between each voyage).
Small luxury cruise line Ponant also hopes to operate a 10-day cruise around the country from late in January with prices ranging from $7200 to nearly $30,000 per person on the La Laperouse. The ship is now anchored in New Caledonia.
New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan said his organisation had been in discussions with government agencies throughout winter.
''It was looking very promising, but when community cases occurred and the election was postponed all our meetings were put on hold till after the election.''
A Covid-19 maritime border order bans foreign ships – including cruise ships – from entering New Zealand, with certain specified exceptions, such as international fishing and cargo ships.
In "exceptional circumstances", foreign vessels may be granted permission to enter New Zealand, but they would need to demonstrate a humanitarian reason or a compelling need for the ship to be delivered to a New Zealand business.
Maritime NZ's deputy director of maritime systems assurance, Kenny Crawford, said he was aware of at least one cruise ship company that has applied for an exemption to allow a foreign ship to enter New Zealand.
This was going through the Ministry of Health's process.
"Crew arriving into New Zealand must undergo testing, isolation and quarantine as set out by the current border settings."