Tropical Pacific Island escape direct from Auckland Airport

18 May 2021

Options for New Zealanders looking to take a winter getaway have been boosted today with the opening of two-way quarantine-free travel to the Cook Islands.

Scott Tasker, Auckland Airport’s General Manager Aeronautical Commercial, said the restart of quarantine-free travel to the Cook Islands will be welcomed by New Zealanders as we head into the chilly winter months.

“The Cook Islands has always been a popular destination for Kiwi travellers. It’s our second biggest Pacific Island travel market behind Fiji. So whether it’s a sophisticated city break, a week at the snow, fun at the theme parks or some tropical sun, between domestic destinations, Australia and the Cook Islands there are now options to suit everyone’s idea of a great winter holiday,” Mr Tasker said.

In 2019, more than a million passengers flew between Auckland Airport and the Pacific Islands, with nearly a quarter of those travelling to and from the Cook Islands. New Zealanders make up 63% of Cook Islands’ international visitors and stay an average of 10 days.

Initially Air New Zealand will operate up to four times a week between Auckland Airport, starting tomorrow, with plans to move to a daily service in July.

“It will be a great kick-start for the Cook Islands economy, which is very reliant on international visitors with more than 60% of GDP linked to tourism. And it comes in time for the traditional mid-winter peak period for New Zealanders travelling to the islands,” said Mr Tasker.

Since late January one-way quarantine-free travel has made it easier for Cook Islanders to come to New Zealand, with around 2800 people travelling here for family, health, work, or education reasons.

“With two-way quarantine-free travel through our fully separated international terminal running smoothly since opening last month for travellers to and from Australia, it’s great to add another quarantine-free travel destination,” Mr Tasker said.

Auckland Airport’s international terminal now operates two physically separate arrivals and departures pathways. The Safe Travel Zone, for those travelling between quarantine-free travel destinations, uses the main arrivals and departures areas of the terminal, including retail, food, and beverage areas.

Arrivals going into managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) are processed exclusively through a secure, self-contained zone in the international terminal’s Pier B. From there passengers are bused directly to their allocated managed isolation hotel or onto a government-chartered domestic flight.

“The terminal separation forms part of Auckland Airport’s risk-based approach to safely re-opening international travel, in line with New Zealand’s overall COVID-19 strategy,” said Mr Tasker.

“Airports and the wider aviation system play a critical role in safeguarding New Zealand against the virus. By taking a tailored approach to border management with robust measures in place for travellers from high-risk countries, we can carefully re-establish regular and reliable air connections with low-risk countries.”

Top tips for travellers:

  • Friends and family are welcome at the airport – our terminals are open to everyone
  • Make sure you’re ready for international travel – read the COVID-19 website for the latest information on quarantine-free travel and re-check what you can and can’t take through Aviation Security screening
  • Duty free is available at both arrivals and departures, with retail and food and beverage options open before and after security, subject to flight schedules
  • Take care and follow signs and directions as you drive through the precinct roadworks
  • Car parks, including valet parking and Park & Ride, the inter-terminal bus, SkyBus, taxis, ride-share, and public transport are all operating at the international terminal
  • Relax and enjoy quarantine-free travel.

More information on Safe Travel at Auckland Airport is here.