Vaccinated travellers will be able to arrive in New Zealand from countries deemed low-risk from early next year.
That scenario is premised on the country achieving high vaccination rates and increasing capacity in the health system to deal with any outbreak.
It is the third of four steps outlined by the Government on Thursday in the plan to reopen New Zealand to the world.
While it was short on specific dates, largely because of uncertainty around the pandemic and emerging variants, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they hoped to begin the staged reopening in the first quarter of 2022.
The Government also set out changes to the vaccine rollout, including speeding up the first dose by allowing people of all eligible ages to book by September 1.
People 50 and over will be able to book an appointment from tomorrow.
People 40 and over can book from Wednesday (August 18), people 30 and over can book a week later (August 25), and 16 and over from September 1.
An announcement for those aged 12 to 15 was expected shortly, Ardern said.
The gap between shots would also move from three weeks to six weeks, a move Ardern said would ensure more people had at least had one shot in case the Delta variant arrived.
Step 1: Immediate response and pre-general population vaccination
The current 14-day MIQ requirements continue for all travellers except from quarantine-free zones. Travel is restricted to citizens and residents, with limited exceptions.
Pre-departure testing and in New Zealand is required. Vaccination rollout focused on priority groups.
The primary measures to control an outbreak remain the four-tier alert level system, with mandatory face coverings and QR scanning to be implemented.
Step 2: General population vaccination and development of additional tools
From September 1 vaccinations open to all ages.
A pilot scheme will begin in October, running to December, exploring alternatives to MIQ including at-home self-isolation. This will be run with employers.
People will not be able to isolate with friends and family, but can do so with people they have travelled with.
Existing requirements remain for all other travellers.
Meanwhile, the health system will strengthen ICU capacity and contact tracing.
Step 3: New travel pathways reflecting risk
During the first quarter of 2022 three new travel pathways will be introduced: low, medium and high risk. This will be open to all travellers, not just citizens and residents.
Vaccinated people arriving from countries deemed low risk will not need to isolate.
Vaccinated people from medium risk countries will have to carry out "modified isolation", such as at home.
All unvaccinated people and those arriving from countries deemed high risk will need to carry out 14 days in MIQ, as per current settings.
Exactly how the risk levels are determined has not yet been revealed. However, as with the current travel arrangements with Australia it is likely low risk countries will be those without any community transmission, or very low levels.
High risk would likely be those experiencing uncontained outbreaks. As with the Australia situation, the levels would be constantly assessed and altered if need be.
Ardern said this system was hopefully to be introduced in the first quarter of 2022, pending other outcomes.
Step 4: Quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers
The final step would allow quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers who returned a negative Covid-19 test.
Unvaccinated travellers would need to go through MIQ as per current settings.
The Government has not given any indication when this could occur as it would depend highly on the global situation.
It would also depend New Zealand having a high vaccination rate and resilient health system to cope with any outbreak.
Regular testing and QR scanning would continue as precautionary measures.