Flights, trains and ferries are highly likely to be cancelled in the wake of New Zealand moving up alert levels. Here is what you need to know for travel in Auckland and around the country.
Travel in Auckland
From 6am Sunday, Auckland will move to alert level 3. Aucklanders should not travel outside the region, and police checkpoints will be in place.
“People should work from home unless that is not possible,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Schools can open for parents that need to be at work. Otherwise, children are asked to stay at home. Supermarkets and pharmacies will continue to stay open.
* Covid 19: What alert level 2 means for travellers in Auckland
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In Auckland, you are able to travel locally if you are accessing essential services, going to work, or exercising. You are also strongly encouraged to wear face masks when leaving home.
Aucklanders should not travel to another region by any means unless they are essential workers travelling for work. Exemptions that were granted from the 3-day lockdown earlier this month will be automatically reinstated.
Public transport will continue to operate in New Zealand’s biggest city, but passengers should maintain physical distancing and wear a mask. You are only able to use public transport in Auckland for the following reasons:
- accessing local services and businesses
- going to work or school, but only if you cannot stay at home
- low-risk exercise in your local area
- visiting people in your bubble
- travelling to permitted gatherings.
The rest of New Zealand
Outside of Auckland, the rest of New Zealand is at alert level 2 from 6am Sunday. That means you are able to 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.
Like previous lockdowns, Air New Zealand will offer credits and flexibility for all customers impacted by alert level changes.
Its website says “To give you full flexibility, we are waiving change fees and extending credit opt-in for domestic flights due to depart before 31 March 2021.”
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said on Sunday a number of flights had been cancelled from Monday in response to reduced demand following the change in alert levels.
The airline was unable to provide a specific number as cancellations were yet to be finalised.
The airline said it would waive any fare difference for customers with existing bookings between Sunday February 28 and Sunday March 7 who wished to rebook their flight before Sunday March 14.
Passengers who had travel booked within the next 48 hours were encouraged to change or cancel their booking online or contact the call centre to amend their booking.
“This frees up seats for those who do need to travel at short notice,” the spokeswoman said.
Jetstar said in an update on its website it would be reviewing its domestic schedule on a daily basis and some flights may be cancelled.
Those affected by cancellations would be contacted with a range of options, which may include a refund depending on the circumstances.
Passengers with bookings between 6am Sunday February 28 and 6am Sunday March 7 who no longer wished to fly could choose to cancel their trip and receive a voucher to the value of their booking.
What if I have an upcoming flight in Auckland?
The Ministry of Transport is yet to update its advice for this latest outbreak, however during the last alert level 3 lockdown earlier this month you could still drive, bus or train into Auckland if you were heading to the airport to go overseas or catch another domestic flight home. Likewise, air passengers could transit through Auckland Airport, as long as they didn’t exit the terminal.
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.
Are Cook Strait ferries still running?
Interislander sailings will continue as planned, with alert level 2 safety measures rolled out.
“Right now, we are working closely with the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health to respond to the latest government advice,” an update on the website read.
“As a result, additional protective measures may be introduced at short notice, so please be patient and expect some alterations to our onboard services.”
Bluebridge sailings would also continue. Passengers who were unable to travel due to level 3 restrictions in Auckland would be offered flexibility to transfer or cancel their booking and get a 12-month credit, while refunds were available to those who had purchased a refundable fare.
What about the Great Journeys of New Zealand trains?
All scenic train services – the Northern Explorer, Coastal Pacific, and TranzAlpine – have been cancelled until Sunday March 7.
Passengers booked to travel between February 28 and March 6 would be offered the choice of a full refund, a transfer to another date, or a letter of credit.
How can I travel to Northland?
The only way in and out of Northland is via Auckland, so is the region effectively stranded?
The Ministry of Transport says you can travel through Auckland (eg from Waikato to Whāngarei) – but only if you are travelling home. You will be stopped, so it’s best to carry proof.
You can also use a bus service transiting through Auckland – but once again only if you are travelling to your primary place of residence.