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New Zealand and Cook Islands create a travel bubble: Check details

New Zealand and Cook Islands have created a two-way travel bubble following several months of a one-way travel bubble. Till now, Cook Islanders have been able to enter New Zealand and skip quarantine. However, Cook Islands has not offered NewZealanders the chance to skip quarantine which will now change.

Starting 17th May 2021, travellers between New Zealand and Cook Islands will be able to travel between the two countries quarantine-free.

This will be the 3rd two-way travel bubble in Asia after Australia and NewZealand & Singapore and HongKong.

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand, said:

It will mean families can reconnect, commercial arrangements can resume, and Kiwis can take a much-welcomed winter break and support the Cook Islands’ tourism sector and recovery.

Air NewZealand ramps up service to Cook Islands

Air New Zealand is the sole airline serving the Cook Islands. Presently, Air New Zealand has a weekly Boeing B787 Dreamliner service to Rarotonga Airport in the Capital Islands. This will increase to twice-weekly service starting 18th May. And by early June, the airline will be flying 4-times-a-week to the Cook Islands.

The schedule for these flights is:

  • Auckland-Rarotonga
  • Departure time: 08:55
  • Arrival time: 14:30 (the day before the departure)
  • Flight time: 3 hours and 35 minutes
  • Flight number: NZ940
  • Air New Zealand will fly to Rarotonga on 12th May, 18th May, 22th May, 25th May, 29th May, 30th May, 1st June, 3rd June and 5th June. From 6th June, the airline will fly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Rarotonga-Auckland
  • Departure time: 15:55
  • Arrival time: 18:25 (the next day)
  • Flight time: 4 hours and 30minutes
  • Flight number: NZ941
  • Air New Zealand will offer flights from Rarotonga to Auckland on 5th May, 11th May, 17th May, 21st May, 24th May, 28th May, 29th May, 31st May, 2nd June and 4th June. From 5th June, it will fly 4-times-a-week to Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

This route is very important for Cook Islands. The majority of Cook Islanders live in NewZealand. The travel bubble makes the movement easier between the two countries. On the other hand, the economy of Cook Islands is heavily dependent on tourism and the majority of visitors on the islands are from New Zealand who want some sunshine.

Around 80,000 people from New Zealand identify themselves as Cook Islanders. Although Cook Islands is an independent country, it’s citizens automatically get New Zealand citizenship.

Encouraged by the successful Australia-New Zealand travel bubble

The successful Trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand has encouraged the Cook Islands to create a two-way quarantine-feee travel bubble with New Zealand.

There have been a few hiccups in the Trans-Tasman bubble. For example, flights between Perth and Auckland were paused temporarily after some cases of COVID-19 were reported in Perth. But in general, the bubble has been working smoothly so far.

Mark Brown, Prime Minister, Cook Islands, said:

The learnings from the trans-Tasman arrangement have informed further bolstering of response capabilities by both Governments in preparation for the commencement of the Cook Islands – New Zealand quarantine-free travel arrangement.

Cook Islands not open for Australians

If Australians are thinking of visiting Cook Islands via a transit at Auckland Airport, the respective governments have made their positions clear on this.

In addition to threatening to fine and jail Australian citizens seeking to return from India, the same punishments potentially apply to Australians trying to slip out of their own country via New Zealand (or any other country they’ve been granted permission to travel to). That includes Australians thinking two weeks on a beach on the Cook Islands would be nice.

What do you think of the all-new two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and Cook Islands? Let me know in the comments section below.

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