Why not begin your Quarantine-free Australian holiday this weekend?
Kiwi travellers are already jumping the gun and crossing the ditch to take advantage of early access to a safe-travel bubble.
Yesterday, it was announced that from Monday 19 April, travellers from Australia could arrive quarantine-free in New Zealand.
However, New Zealanders are already enjoying quarantine-free travel to Australia and can get an early start to their overseas adventure, returning after April 19.
Transtasman fares are fairly pricey compared to pre-Covid Fares (if you can remember those days). However there are some bonza bargains to be had, if you are quick.
Budget carrier Jetstar is offering lead-in seats on their Auckland-Sydney $249 one-way, and $312 Sydney-Auckland.
The only catch is there is the only one flight until 19 April, and this departs on Tuesday 13 April. A week ahead of the proposed two-way bubble, this break would be a perfect way to beat the bubble rush – providing you can get a place.
Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth, said both Jetstar and Qantas have seen "strong" uptake in both directions since the first bubble announcement. "Frequent flyers who redeemed their seats was 80 times busier than what we see on a normal day," said Wirth.
In particular Jetstar's $216 one-way flights from Auckland to Melbourne and Qantas's new Auckland-Gold Coast route have been popular - which commences on 19 April, $310 one-way.
The Australian airline says it will be adding more capacity Transtasman from Auckland and Christchurch, in time for the New Zealand school holidays.
Air New Zealand has a few more seats on offer pre-bubble with daily departures from Auckland. Currently Melbourne is on sale from $254 one-way this weekend.
You may struggle to get a seat on the way back, however, as the flood gates open to all travellers on the Monday.
Melbourne – Auckland seats on the 19 April are completely full, and jump to $370 the week after as quarantine-free travel opens up to Australians.
Seats on flights returning 18 April are considerably cheaper, but come with the added cost of 14 days in MIQ arriving before the official two-way agreement.
Yesterday, the PM advised travellers to "rebook travel" for 19 April onwards and cancel any un-needed MIQ spaces. At the post cabinet press conference PM Ardern said there would be no leniency to those arriving early or currently in MIQ from Australia:
"You'd want to avoid spending any longer there than you'd need to," she said.
Once across the Tasman, most Australian states are open to Kiwi travellers with Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania all open to tourists. Western Australia, however, is not and Air New Zealand has not yet confirmed the return of quarantine-free flights to Perth via Auckland.
New Zealanders heading to Australia must first fill in an Australian Travel Declaration, to say you have been in no other country than New Zealand in the past 14 days.
While quarantine-free travel is already available to Kiwis, it flies in the face of the "flyer beware" advice. Kiwis have been warned that while the 19 April relaxing has been announced, the situation can change rapidly. The possibility of a return local and international travel restrictions are real, which could see flyers returning to an MIQ stay, they had hoped to avoid.
Should you jump the gun and go across the ditch early, you are taking an undeniable risk.
The official Safe Travel advice remains "do not travel", with a statement on the MFAT advisory website saying that the alert level will only be relaxed to "exercise increased caution" on 19 April.