Australians hopeful of a return to widespread international travel have been dealt a devastating blow just hours after the trans-Tasman bubble was announced.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed on Tuesday it was unlikely further quarantine-free travel corridors will be established with other countries in the coming months.
Australia had been looking at Singapore, Japan and South Korea as other potential destinations for a travel bubble as the country sought to restart overseas trips.
But Mr Morrison said the government was no longer ready to allow citizens to travel beyond New Zealand and refused to say which countries could be next on the list for holiday-starved Aussies.
‘I can’t confirm what they are at this point, we are in no position to be outlining where the next ones will be,’ he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was not in a position to allow quarantine-free international travel beyond New Zealand (pictured, passengers at Auckland Airport)
Australians can travel to New Zealand without having to quarantine on either end – but that is the only country where overseas travel is allowed to (pictured, passengers at Sydney Airport)
‘These things are regularly assessed by the Chief Medical Officer and we have looked at places like Singapore and Japan and South Korea and countries like this, but at this stage we are not in a position to move forward on any of those at this point.’
Australians are currently banned from travelling overseas without an exemption under emergency biosecurity laws, which are in place until at least June 17.
Although under changes made to the international travel ban last month Australians can legally leave the country to travel to New Zealand.
Mr Morrison said he would not speculate on when international travel beyond New Zealand would return as ‘I don’t think that’s fair’.
‘We are seeing populations around the world increasingly being vaccinated, but the important piece of information is that while we know that the vaccines that we’re using and that other countries are using are very effective in ensuring against serious disease, and protecting, obviously they can’t in all cases,’ he said.
‘As more of the world, and particularly more of our own country, is vaccinated, then obviously we can start moving to managing this virus a lot more like other viruses that we deal with in a more standard way.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) has refused to speculate on when international travel beyond New Zealand will return for Australians
Passengers travelling from Australia to New Zealand will no longer need to quarantine on arrival after the trans-Tasman travel bubble was given the green light to start from Monday, April 19 (pictured, a passenger at Sydney Airport)
‘That’s our objective, but we’ll let the evidence lead us on that. And at this point, the evidence is not strong enough to give us a good pointer about when we will arrive at that point.’
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday the long-awaited trans-Tasman travel bubble would commence on April 19.
Airlines wasted no time in adding hundreds of flights between Australia and New Zealand after the travel bubble was cleared for take-off, with some return services going for less than $500.
Qantas and Jetstar announced a combined 122 weekly return flights between the two countries from the April start date.
The two airlines will operate the same routes as they did before the Covid pandemic hit, while adding two new services for travellers to take advantage of – Auckland to Cairns and the Gold Coast.
Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said on Tuesday night the airline had been ‘run off our feet’ as thousands of people desperate to travel and be reunited with loved ones booked flights, with Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne the most popular destinations.
But Virgin Australia, which was rescued from administration last year, will not return to trans-Tasman flying before October as it instead focuses on its domestic operations in Australia.
Qantas and Air New Zealand have announced the addition of hundreds of flights between Australia and New Zealand from April 19 to support the travel bubble (stock image)
Air New Zealand said it was ramping up flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown and eight of its Australian ports now quarantine-free travel has become a reality.
‘Pre-Covid-19 Australia was the largest tourism market for both our airline and New Zealand. We know a lot of tourism operators have been feeling the lack of international visitors so we’re looking forward to playing a role in New Zealand’s recovery,’ Mr Foran said.
Virgin Australia said while the travel bubble ‘is a step in the right direction and provides a boost of confidence for travellers looking to reunite with family and friends and do business across the Tasman’ its focus was currently on Australia.
‘While the airline remains committed to trans-Tasman flying when the market fully recovers, we are mindful of evolving border requirements which add complexity to our business as we push ahead with plans to grow our core domestic Australia operations,’ the airline said in a statement.
‘For this reason, we have suspended the sale of most New Zealand services until October 31, 2021. A limited schedule for flights to and from Queenstown will remain available for booking from September 18, 2021.’
Ms Ardern said New Zealand’s federal cabinet is now satisfied the conditions needed for quarantine-free travel have been met.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern (pictured) announced quarantine free travel between New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday
The trans-Tasman bubble is the first chance Australians have to travel overseas without requiring an exemption since the Covid pandemic hit (pictured, passengers at Sydney Airport)
But she also warned that with the pandemic still wreaking havoc in many other parts of the world the rules could be subject to rapid change if an outbreak occurs in either country.
‘Those undertaking travel on either side of the ditch will do so under the guidance of flyer beware. People will need to plan for the possibility of travel being disrupted if there is an outbreak,’ she said.
Australians heading to New Zealand will be kept separate from other international arrivals who are still required to go into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days.
Ms Ardern has said there will be no vaccine requirement when travelling in the trans-Tasman bubble, but strict Covid protocols will still be carried out.
Passengers will be required to undergo random temperature checks, wear a face mask during the flight and must download New Zealand’s Covid Tracer app.
Jacinda Ardern said Kiwis have missed there friends and family members in Australia over the past year (pictured, passengers at Sydney Airport)
All travellers on board a ‘green zone flight’ must also have been in Australia for at least 14 days before departure.
Mr Morrison said the development is the first of many more steps to come as the two countries get back to a new normal in the wake of the pandemic.
‘I very much appreciate the arrangement the New Zealand government has come to today, we welcome them back as indeed Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies,’ he said.
‘That means more planes in the air, more jobs on the ground and in the air as well for our airlines.’
Ms Ardern said the news will come as a great relief for many Kiwis who have been unable to see loved ones from across the ditch.
‘One sacrifice that has been particularly hard for many to bear over the past year has not been able to see friends and family who live in Australia,’ she said.
NEW ZEALAND’S HIDDEN GEMS
As excited holidaymakers get ready to pack their bags, experts at Booking.com have announced nine hidden New Zealand gems travellers should add to their travel itinerary.
From coastal escapes to mountain trails and sprawling ski fields, here is a list of stunning towns to explore and sites to see to quench your wanderlust.
Nestled in the Bay of Islands, in the far north of the North Island, Russell boasts a collection of historic sites as the country’s first seaport and European settlement.
Visitors can admire the town’s old buildings, enjoy an array of seaside cafes and restaurants, swim in the bay, or venture to the beautiful nearby islands – Moturua, Urupukapuka and Motuarohia/Roberton.
Russell, in the Bay of Islands, is a historic town that is famous for being New Zealand’s first seaport and European settlement
Raglan, a coastal town west of Hamilton in the Waikato region, is a surfing mecca known for its beautiful beaches and water sports.
Popular attractions include kayaking, trekking to Bridal Veil Falls, climbing to the top of Mount Karioi, cycling the Pipiwharauroa Trail, or checking out the famous black sand at Ngarunui Beach.
Further south, on the northern tip of the South Island, Kaiteriteri is known for its turquoise water and golden sand beach, iconic split apple rock, and its closeness to the Abel Tasman National Park.
Guests can relax on the beach, go kayaking or paddleboarding around the bay, or mountain bike or hike local trails.
For those looking for a nature getaway, Glenorchy, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu, shows off New Zealand’s impressive countryside, sitting amongst a native beech forest and towering mountain ranges.
The small settlement is known as the gateway to ‘middle earth’ for its iconic landscapes that featured in the Lord of The Rings franchise, with local activities including hiking through an array of walking trails, jet boating and kayaking on the Lake Wakatipu, and horse riding.
Ohope Beach, in the Bay of Plenty, has an 11km stretch of white sand that is popular with surfers and bird watchers, as large numbers of wading birds flock to the area each year to breed.
6. Omarama – The junction town offers an array of activities, including glider fishing and hot baths overlooking the countryside
Aside from watersports, fishing and golf are activities of choice for visitors, with Ohope Beach looking out to the renowned Whale Island and active volcano White Island and the sweeping East Cape.
Tucked in the southern end of the Mackenzie Basin, Omarama is surrounded by incredible clay cliffs and offers the perfect stop through for travellers coming from Christchurch via the Alp 2 Ocean cycle trail.
After a long day of cycling, trekking or checking out the Lindis pass, guests can soak in the famous Omarama Hot Tubs and watch the starry night sky, or immerse in the local lifestyle by watching a a live sheep shearing show or glider fishing.
If you prefer winter sports, Whakapapa Village, positioned on Mt Ruapehu’s western slopes, offers the perfect ski holiday with accommodation on site at the heritage Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
Non-skiers can ride the gondola to Knoll Ridge, New Zealand’s highest cafe, or hike on the Taranaki Falls, Meads Wall and Skyline walks, which feature volcanic rock formations and can be trekked all-year-round.
Whakapapa Village, positioned on Mt Ruapehu’s western slopes, is a skiers paradise in winter and stunning walking trails in summer
Takaka, located in the southern end of Golden Bay, is a charming town with a vibrant art community and is home to a cluster of trendy cafés, a small museum, a movie theatre, and boutique shops.
Like Kaiteriteri, it is conveniently close to the Abel Tasman National Park and other natural wonders such as the Te Waikoropupū Springs, the largest freshwater springs, the Rawhiti Cave, Wainui Falls, and Grove Scenic Reserve.
On the West Coast of the South Island between Westport and Greymouth, Punakaiki possesses coastal forest, limestone caves and canyons and pristine rivers.
Vacationers can marvel at the 30-million old Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes, engage in adventure sports like rafting, caving, and canoeing or explore the Paparoa Track.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk