New Zealand plans quarantine-free ‘travel bridge’ with the Cook Islands

Sophia Dyer
Aug 11, 2020

The New Zealand to Cook Islands travel bubble is hoped to be in place before the end of the year

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her plans to create a virus-free travel bubble with the Cook Islands on Monday. A draft agreement has been drawn up, but no firm date is yet set in place.

Currently, New Zealand has eliminated local transmission of the virus, while the self-governing Cook Islands, which has a population of 10,000, have reported zero cases of the virus.

Ardern told reporters that NZ officials will head to the Cook Islands, within the next 10 days to confirm the travel procedures. “We haven’t put a timeframe around the reopening at this stage, though our expectation is that it would be in place before the end of the year,” she said.

Rarotonga Cook is the largest of the Cook Islands. Credit │ Unsplash

The idyllic Cook Islands is a former NZ colony which has retained a close relationship with Wellington.

The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna closed borders back in March and opened them for some Cook Islands residents in NZ to return home in June. “We look forward to once again welcoming family and visitors from New Zealand without the restriction of quarantine on both ends,” Mr Puna said.

This comes after Mark Brown, deputy prime minister of the Cook Islands said in July that he was in talks with Air New Zealand regarding the bubble. “We are Covid-19 free … New Zealand is in level 1 with no community transmission. So we are quite happy to see the establishment of a new travel bridge,” he told the AM Show.

The Cook Island Promise

The Cook Island tourism board have created a ‘safety promise’ in order to protect their citizens from the harmful affects of coronavirus. It urges people to comply with social distancing stating, “while we are confident to reopen our borders to New Zealand, we must emphasise to all our visitors, and to tourism operators, the importance of applying pragmatic physical distancing and good hygiene measures.”

While in New Zealand, travellers who arrive from abroad are currently required to quarantine for 14 days in government decided hotels and facilities. Those who live in New Zealand are now experiencing a relatively normal lifestyle due to their curb of the virus.

If the sound of the Cook Islands has left you feeling inspired, read about 5 of the most remote and uninhabited islands in the world or watch one of these ten travel documentaries for the culturally curious