new zealand border opening
International students can start preparing for the long-awaited New Zealand border opening. Source: Marty Melville/AFP

New Zealand border opening is set for Aug. 1, 2022, announced Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on May 11, 2022. It will be a full reopening to all, including international students, with border safeguards fully lifted. There is no need for pre-departure testing as well, from 11:59 pm on July 31.

“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” says Ardern, as reported by AFP. The New Zealand border opening — brought forward by more than two months — will mark the end of one of the toughest anti-COVID-19 border restrictions in the world.

“This will be welcome news for families, businesses and our migrant communities. It also provides certainty and good preparation time for airlines and cruise ship companies planning a return to New Zealand in the peak spring and summer seasons,” she said.

The controls dating back to March 2020 have been hailed as world-leading in some quarters, with New Zealand boasting one of the lowest coronavirus death rates among developed nations. However, critics have decried the system as lacking flexibility and compassion, as well as curtailing the economy.

New Zealand border reopening would be a welcome respite for many

International students have been eager to return to New Zealand after it imposed a harsh zero-COVID policy that barred most foreigners from crossing its shores. An ongoing set of events delayed its reopening plans, including the Delta outbreak last summer and the Omicron variant.

The government previously announced that up to 5,000 international students for semester 2 could return from April 12, 2022, while all visa categories will reopen from October 2022, including visitor and student visas.

The October visa processing will enable students to enrol for study in New Zealand in 2023. The August New Zealand border reopening would serve as a welcome respite for many students still stuck offshore.

Universities New Zealand chief executive Chris Whelan previously told Study International that there has been “quite a high level of frustration” from students and universities over the delay in the country’s border reopening.

“We’re obviously very pleased to be reopening our borders; we just wish it was a lot faster,” he said. Universities New Zealand is the peak body for New Zealand’s universities.

He added that many students stuck offshore were keen to return to the country quickly.


Additional reporting by AFP