The Australian and NZ governments reached a deal yesterday that would see people allowed to travel from New Zealand to New South Wales and the Northern Territory quarantine-free with flights linking the two nations beginning in two weeks, on October 16.
However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was still too early to let Australians into the nation of 5 million, meaning the travel will be one-way and New Zealanders would need to do two weeks of managed isolation on their return home.
Queenstown mayor Jim Boult described the Government's unwillingness to open the border to Australian visitors right now as a big blow for the tourism sector.
"I don't think Kiwis will be keen to go to Australia if they have to come back and isolate for two weeks when they come back. Where's the upside in that?"
Boult wants Australian states to be gradually cleared for travel to New Zealand.
National Party leader Judith Collins doubts whether a two-way travel bubble with Australia will be opened soon.
The party wants travel bubbles opened with Pacific neighbours, including Australia, as soon as it's safe.
But Collins said National would want a border protection agency operating in this country first.
"It's an obvious thing to do but I'm not going to push it until we've got the border protection place and safety. We don't want to do what the current government did last year and export measles to Samoa. We don't want to do that with Covid-19."
First phase welcomed in Australia
The federal government in Australia has said the deal is merely stage one in a more comprehensive travel bubble, which will slowly be rolled out according to international circumstances.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said he hopes it won't be too long until travel from Australia to New Zealand is approved.
"As more cities in Australia open up, this is likely to include new routes direct from New Zealand that the group has not previously offered, to make the most of the easing restrictions.
"This first phase of a travel bubble with New Zealand is the best news the industry has had in months.
"New Zealand was Australia's second-biggest source of visitors before the pandemic. It's obviously about to go straight to number one," Joyce said.
The airline did not directly answer questions on whether it would be creating a direct route to New Zealand via a Northern Territory airport.
Darwin residents Neil and Donna Linklater said when Kiwis arrive, they will welcome them with open arms.
"I'd love to see the Kiwis here, beautiful people. They're just like us. Enjoy beer, enjoy food," said Neil Linklater.
Donna Linklater said although the thought of international arrival makes her anxious, New Zealanders have controlled their cases.
"I still believe the economy has to go forward. International travel was eventually going to happen, it has to happen," she said.