New Zealand Welcomes First US Flight Arrivals After Over Two Years

New Zealand Welcomes First US Flight Arrivals After Over Two Years

The words "Kia Ora" welcome travelers to New Zealand's Auckland International Airport. Their simplest translation means "Welcome" in Maori. (photo via Tourism New Zealand)

New Zealand welcomed its first tourists from the United States in over two years this morning, departing from Los Angeles and San Francisco aboard two Air New Zealand flights on April 30.

The country began welcoming international tourists to its islands on May 1 after more than two years of closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the country had previously chosen July as the month of reopening, though that changed due to positive signs around the world and high vaccination rates in New Zealand.

Those first tourists were welcomed at 5:45 a.m. NZT at Auckland Airport with a traditional Maori welcome called a powhiri, performed by Haka the Legend. The welcome included traditional songs of different Maori tribes.

New Zealand Welcomes First US Flight Arrivals After Over Two Years

Families reunite in person for the first time after New Zealand reopened to vaccinated travelers on May 1. (photo via Tourism New Zealand)

Travelers from the U.S. no longer need to quarantine upon arrival as long as they have had a negative pre-departure test, have been fully vaccinated and have completed the traveler declaration form.

Travelers who arrive in New Zealand will be required to take and report their results of two rapid antigen tests, one taken upon arrival and another on the sixth day of their trip.

According to Our World in Data, New Zealand has had one of the lowest numbers of cumulative COVID-19 cases in the world, though numbers spiked in March. Cumulatively, New Zealand has reported 936,697 positive cases and 713 deaths since the pandemic began. It also reports 83.7 percent of its population has been at least partially vaccinated.

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