Covid-19 travel restrictions: Flights, ferries and trains cancelled

Trains, flights and ferries are facing cancellations as alert level changes take hold across the country.

Auckland is at alert level 3, where travel is highly restricted, while the rest of the country is at alert level 2, with travel still allowed. Here is the latest round-up of travel cancellations and rules you need to know.

Air NZ will offer credits and flexibility for affected customers.


Air NZ will offer credits and flexibility for affected customers.

Domestic flights

Air New Zealand has cancelled 8 flights for Tuesday 16 February, with more likely for Wednesday. The cancellations impact some services between Auckland and Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin.

It will offer credits and flexibility for all customers impacted by alert level changes.

* Covid-19 three-day lockdown: What travellers need to know
* Coronavirus: Auckland Airport outlines rules for travellers under Covid-19 alert level 3
* Your rights as a traveller when flights are cancelled

The airline says passengers with a transit stop at Auckland Airport will still be able to fly.

If you have a flight booked before 21 February, you can change flights for free up until 7 March without paying any fare difference. You must call the contact centre to arrange this.

If you wish to cancel a domestic flight and get a credit, you can do so for any trips that depart before 31 March 2021. You cancel the flight through this online tool.

Air New Zealand says its Auckland lounges will close. Koru Clubs elsewhere around the country will be restricted to 100 people.

The airline says “If you are unable to manage your booking online and do not wish to travel, there is no need to get in touch with us before your flight’s departure. We can assist you at a later date to find an alternative flight option, or provide you with a credit note.”

Passengers may not be physically distanced. The airline says “The Ministry of Health has agreed that introducing physical distancing on planes for a 72-hour period is not easily done, however we will try our best to distance customers if space allows.”

Jetstar says “We’ll be reviewing our domestic schedule on a daily basis and some flights may be cancelled.” It has cancelled two flights between Auckland and Wellington for Tuesday 15 February.

Customers with bookings over the next three days can cancel their bookings and receive a credit. Or, those who want to get back to Auckland on an earlier flight can also change their flight free of charge.

Both Air New Zealand and Jetstar have temporarily suspended food services after news one of the positive Covid-19 cases works at an airline food catering company at Auckland Airport.

International flights

A number of flights to Australia today have already been cancelled.


A number of flights to Australia today have already been cancelled.

Australia has suspended “green-zone” travel with New Zealand for three days. This travel arrangement allowed for New Zealanders to arrive in Australia without needing to quarantine.

“All flights originating in New Zealand will be classified as Red Zone flights for an initial period of 72 hours from 12.01am on 15 February”, a statement from Australia’s Department of Health reads.

“As a result of this, all people arriving on such flights originating within this three-day period will need to go into 14 days of supervised hotel quarantine.”

A number of flights to Australia today have already been cancelled, and three flights on Tuesday 16 have also been cancelled.


Northern-Explorer - Leaving National Park


Northern-Explorer – Leaving National Park

Kiwirail has announced the Northern Explorer services between Auckland and Wellington are cancelled on Monday 15 February and Wednesday 17 February 2021.

The Coastal Pacific train, from Picton to Christchurch, is cancelled on Tuesday 16 February and Wednesday 17 February. The return TransApline service, from Christchurch to Greymouth, is also cancelled today.

Kiwirail says it does not intend to cancel any other services “at this time.”

“Capital Connection service will continue to operate between Palmerston North and Wellington and passengers are required to wear face coverings,” a spokesperson for Kiwirail said.

Trains continue to operate in Auckland, but only for essential travel. You must maintain one metres distance and wear a mask. The Ministry of Transport has released more than 20 reasons you can use public transport in Auckland, which includes low-risk recreation, accessing local businesses, attending a doctor, or going to work if you can’t work from home. See the complete list of reasons you can use public transport in Auckland here.


The Bluebridge, Interislander and East by West ferries in Wellington Harbour.


The Bluebridge, Interislander and East by West ferries in Wellington Harbour.

InterIslander has announced new bookings are suspended until Friday 19 February as a precautionary measure while it awaits further government announcements.

For those who already have bookings, there will be changes on-board, including reduced services, increased cleaning, and physical distancing measures.

The company said in a statement: “Interislander will continue to sail between Wellington and Picton, with physical distancing required onboard the ferries. Face coverings are recommended but are not mandatory. With increased physical distancing required, we are able to carry fewer passengers on each crossing. We are doing our best to minimise any inconvenience to passengers as far as possible, however safety is paramount.”

Bluebridge says “we’re able to carry all passengers and vehicles who wish to travel across Cook Strait. Social distancing and contact tracing measures are in place.”

In Auckland, Fullers360 says its Waiheke Island and Devonport services will be dropping to hourly sailings.

“Across our peak morning services this morning we’ve immediately seen a 90 per cent drop in passenger numbers across the Devonport and Waiheke services. The significant drop in volume is a good indication of high levels of compliance on our services, and it is pleasing to see these communities following the Government guidance around essential travel only messages,” Fullers360 chief executive Mike Horne said.

“The alternative alert level 3 timetable in place will give our crew the best opportunity to keep safe while also providing adequate frequency and certainty for those who need to require Fullers360 services for essential travel.”

Services to Rangitoto Island, Tiritiri Matangi, Rotoroa Island and Coromandel are cancelled until further notice.

Travel in Auckand

Aucklanders should not travel outside the region, unless for essential reasons – police checkpoints will be in place.

If you are travelling home, you are able to travel into and out of Auckland.

Aside from that, the Ministry of Transport has released more than 20 reasons you can travel in/out of Auckland. That includes travelling for essential work/business, maintaining a shared childcare arrangement, providing urgent care for a person in a critical or terminally ill condition and heading to a medical appointment. See the full list here.

People travelling for work can seek exemptions on the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment website.

You can travel locally in Auckland for a number of reasons, including to access essential services, going to work (if you can’t work from home), or exercising. You are also strongly encouraged to wear face masks when leaving home. The full list of more than 20 reasons you are able to travel within Auckland is here.

What if I have an upcoming flight in Auckland?

You are allowed to make your way to Auckland Airport if you have a flight that leaves the airport, and you are travelling for essential reasons. That includes those outside the region needing to access Auckland’s airport – once again for essential travel only.

The airport said in a statement: “Be prepared to have your travel itinerary checked at the door, and you may be asked about your reason for travel. If you’re unable to catch your flight without assistance, one support person will be able to enter the terminal building with you.

“There might be extra wait time inside the terminal. We’re going to need to carefully manage your journey through the terminal to ensure everyone can keep a safe space between them and their fellow passengers. This might mean some additional time spent waiting to be processed. Please be patient.”

Car parks, including Park & Ride, and pick up/drop off areas will remain open.

You are free to fly around New Zealand if you live outside of Auckland. For example, flights from Wellington to Queenstown, or Hamilton to Christchurch are still allowed.

What are the travel rules outside Auckland?

The rest of New Zealand is at alert level 2 until midnight Wednesday, at this stage. That means you can continue travelling domestically, aside from trips to Auckland (unless you are travelling to/from home).

When travelling domestically at alert level two you should keep records of services you use, keep track of who you have been in contact with, keep a distance of groups of people you don’t know, and you must legally wear a face mask on all public transport.

The Ministry of Health also recommends you minimise the number of places you stop on the way to your destination and use the Covid-19 tracer app at all times.

Of course, anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or awaiting test results should not travel at all, no matter where they live.

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