Editor’s Note — CNN Travel updates this article periodically. It was last updated in its entirety on December 28.
(CNN) — If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.
New Zealand has become the poster child for how to deal with Covid-19. Its early lockdown and strict border measures mean it has suppressed the virus to an astonishing degree.
What’s on offer
New Zealand’s landscape is the stuff of legend. Arthur’s Pass National Park, with its soaring peaks and deep valleys is ripe for “tramping”, the locals’ term for a good, long hike. Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile beach offer vast sea views from the tip of North Island. Meanwhile, indigenous Maori culture permeates every aspect of the country. Pick up an RV and it’s easy to find an empty corner of this magical country to explore.
Who can go
The rules are simple. Other than a few exceptions for partners, dependents and critical workers, only New Zealand residents and citizens are allowed into the country.
What are the restrictions?
New Zealand has maintained some of the toughest travel guidelines in the world since March. All arrivals, including New Zealand citizens, must undertake 14 days of mandatory quarantine and test negative for Covid-19 at the end of this period before entering the community.
All arrivals must book their place in a managed isolation and quarantine facility prior to travel, and a voucher confirming that a space has been booked must be presented before boarding. Currently there is no availability until late February 2021.
What’s the Covid situation?
New Zealand has successfully eliminated Covid-19 in the community, with all recent positives coming inside managed isolation facilities. After a handful of cases were found in Auckland in August after 102 days without a positive test, the city went back into a strict lockdown until October. The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has won plaudits for her handling of the crisis, in which only 25 people have died, with 2,144 cases overall.
What can visitors expect?
Those able to enter New Zealand will find life lived much as it was pre-pandemic. The country is currently at Alert Level 1, which means that the virus is contained. Mass gatherings are limited to 500, but while physical distancing is encouraged, it isn’t mandatory. Bars and restaurants are open, but contact tracing measures are in place.
The country’s Alert Levels go up to 4, at which point a stay-at-home order would be in place and education facilities would be closed.
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Joe Minihane and Julia Buckley contributed to this report