Planning for travel in a post-lockdown era can be stressful. The team at Expedia has prepared this guide to help with all the questions travellers may have on the New Zealand and Cook Islands Travel Bubble.

Note: The information provided below has been prepared to give travellers guidance on the arrangements to date. We encourage travellers to refer to the most up to date travel advisory on covid19.govt.nz or covid19.gov.ck ahead of planning your travel. Expedia advises potential travellers to carefully study travel advisories and research both destination and home entry restrictions, which may include changes for non-essential travel. This article is correct at time of publication and the facts contained herein are subject to change without notice. 

Last updated:  18 May 2021

Q1. When did quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands commence?
Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and the Cook Islands will commenced from 17 May, 2021, meaning travellers do not have to go into managed isolation or self-isolation when they arrive.

Q2. What are the requirements to be eligible to travel?
Anyone in New Zealand or the Cook Islands can travel on a quarantine-free flight, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and immigration requirements.

  • Must be in New Zealand/Cook Islands in the 14 days before your departing flight.
  • Not have had a positive COVID-19 test in the 14 days before you depart.
  • Not waiting for results from a COVID-19 test from a test taken in the 14 days before your departure.
  • Meet immigration requirements (see below)

Travellers should be aware that normal immigration rules will still apply. For more details on visa and entry requirements, visit:

Q3. Will I need to wear a mask on the flight?
Yes, travellers will need to wear a mask at the airport and on the flight.

Q4. Will I need a pre-departure COVID-19 test done?
No, travellers do not need to conduct a pre-departure COVID-19 test to travel on a quarantine-free flight.

Travel from New Zealand to the Cook Islands

Q1. Are there any limitations to where I can go in the Cook Islands?
Travellers can travel to the outer islands after they arrive in Rarotonga. Travellers do not need to self-isolate in Rarotonga before continuing their journey to the outer islands.

Q2. How is the COVID-19 situation in the Cook Islands?
Travellers are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest restrictions and guidelines. The Cook Islands has a 4-tier COVID-19 Alert Level system, travellers are encouraged to stay up to date on what each Alert Level means. Learn about the Alert Level system here.

Q3. What happens if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak while I’m in the Cook Islands?
Community cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand or Cook Islands could lead to the government pausing any quarantine-free travel arrangements while it gathers information about the risk. To help travellers prepare for such situations, the New Zealand Government has developed a guide in the event there are any COVID-19 cases in the Cook Islands or New Zealand

Q4. What is the CookSafe QR Card?
The contact tracing works a little different in the Cook Islands. When travellers arrive, register for a unique CookSafe QR Card, which is a physical card that should always be kept with them. CookSafe stations will be set up at some locations, and travellers should use their QR Card to scan in. Travellers should register for their QR Card at Rarotonga International Airport or the Tourism Visitor Information Centre in town. For more information about the CookSafe QR Card visit here.

Q5. Do I need to download the contact tracing app in the Cook Islands?
It’s recommended to download the contact tracing app, CookSafe+ to help contact tracing go faster. It uses smartphone Bluetooth technology to register other CookSafe+ App users and NZ Covid Tracer App users in the travellers vicinity. The CookSafe+ App will send a traveller an alert if they have come into contact with another app user who tests positive for COVID-19.

The CookSafe+ app does not remove the need to scan in with the CookSafe QR Card. Remember to take your card with you everywhere you go.

If you cannot or do not want to download the app, ensure you sign into businesses and venues with their alternative contact tracing system and keep your own record of where you’ve been, when you travelled there (date and time), and who you met.

Q6. What should I do if I come down with COVID-19 symptoms in the Cook Islands?
If travellers start to feel unwell, stay in your accommodation and put a face mask on. Do not use public transport to go home. Call the Cook Islands Healthline on 29667 for advice.

Q7. Where can I get the latest information about the Cook Islands’ COVID-19 status and quarantine-free travel?
Travellers should refer to the Cook Islands Department of Health and the New Zealand Unite Against COVID-19 website for the latest advice, information and resources.

Travel from the Cook Islands to New Zealand

Q1. Where can I travel to in New Zealand?
 There are no restrictions to where travellers can go in and around New Zealand.

Q2. Do I need to complete any documents before departing?
Travellers returning to New Zealand or planning to travel to New Zealand need to complete the Nau Mai Rā travel declaration before departing. This declaration mainly asks about your travel plans and contact details. Access the travel declaration here. (Note: Internet Explorer does not work with this form, please use Google Chrome or another browser)

Travellers will also be required to complete a pre-departure health declaration. Questions about your health will be asked at the check-in kiosk. For more information visit Covid19.govt.nz.

Q3. How is the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand?
Travellers are encouraged to stay up to date with the latest restrictions and guidelines. New Zealand has a 4-tier COVID-19 Alert Level system, travellers are encouraged to stay up to date on what each Alert Level means. Learn about the Alert Level system here.

Face masks are required on public transport including buses, trains and most ferries and jet boats. It is also encouraged to wear one in places where physical distancing is not possible.

Q4. Do I need to download the contact tracing app in New Zealand?
It’s recommended to use the NZ COVID Tracer app to help keep track of the places you’ve visited. There will be a QR code at the airport that you can scan to get the app.

If you do not want to download the app, ensure you keep a record of where you’ve been, when you travelled there (date and time), and who you met.

Q5. What should I do if I come down with COVID-19 symptoms in New Zealand?
 If travellers start to feel unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms, stay in your accommodation and call Healthline for free on 0800 611 116 for advice.

Q6. Where can I get the latest information about New Zealand’s COVID-19 status and quarantine-free travel?
The Covid19.govt.nz and Unite against COVID-19 social media channels will announce changes to New Zealand or Australia’s COVID-19 situation and to quarantine-free travel. Check them regularly for updates that may affect you. Travellers can also check SmartTraveller for information about travelling safely and what to do if you need help while in New Zealand.

For travellers ready to explore the Cook Islands, get planning here.