New Zealand fully re-opens its borders to visitors for first time since March 2020

Tourists can officially enter New Zealand from Monday. Credit: AP

New Zealand has fully re-opened its borders to visitors for the first time since March 2020.

From Monday, travellers with visas and those on student visas from across the world are able to enter the country.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the re-opening an "enormous moment" for the country which has had some of the strictest border controls in the world throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some restrictions have steadily lifted since February with the ending of the hotel quarantine requirement for people entering the country.

But Monday marked the first time borders fully re-open since Covid struck, with cruise ships and foreign yachts also allowed to dock at its ports.

However, those entering the country must show they are vaccinated against coronavirus and take two Covid tests after arriving. They will not be required to quarantine.

The government said in an update on its website: "Applicants will still need to meet New Zealand’s health border settings, including being fully vaccinated, and completing a New Zealand Traveller Declaration.

"Applicants who are travelling from a visa waiver country will also be required to obtain a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)."

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New Zealand successfully tackled earlier Covid outbreaks with tough border controls and strict lockdowns, while contract tracing and strict isolation measures for infectious people were also key to the country's Covid success.

But these methods weren't as effective against the more transmissible Delta and Omicron variants, prompting the government to impose restrictions again in January - meaning Ms Ardern was forced to postpone her own wedding.

Speaking at a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ms Ardern was quoted by Reuters as saying: "It's been a staged and cautious process on our part since February as we, alongside the rest of the world continue to manage a very live global pandemic, while keeping our people safe."

The re-opening will come as further good news to Britons hoping to travel to the country, after New Zealand raised the age limit of working holiday visas from 30 to 36 for UK citizens.

Under current rules, only Britons aged 30 and under can live and work in New Zealand for 23 months.

But in a deal struck between Ms Ardern and Boris Johnson, the Youth Mobility and Working Holiday schemes will be expanded so everyone aged up to 36 can work for up to three years from 2024.

The scheme also means those from New Zealand will have the same opportunities in the UK.