Trans Tasman ski bubble – flights could commence within weeks

The Remarkables. Photo credit: NZ Ski

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has flagged the possibility of flights between Australia and New Zealand recommencing within weeks in an interview with the RNZ Morning Report.

Prime Minister Ardern revealed, however, that the real challenge is Australia’s current inter state border blocks. That, and the increase in cases in Victoria. 

“We’d expect to see some of those issues resolved before we would see them necessarily opening up to New Zealand. People want to travel internally across Australia before they expect necessarily to come across the ditch.”

Ardern has also been clear that a trans Tasman bubble is possible under their Alert Level 2. The country’s Alert Level 2 is being released in stages, with implements of increased gathering numbers and the like. Their cabinet is meeting today to consider easing more restrictions bringing the trans Tasman bubble into closer reach.

However, not all Australian states are created equal during a pandemic with State Premiers calling the border control shots. Which poses a problem for skiers and snowboarders wanting to head to the Southern Alps or Mt Ruapehu.

Those in New South Wales, ACT and Victoria will be, under their state and territory pandemic protocols, allowed to travel to ski and snowboard – when ski fields announce both what dates they are opening and how they will operate. Those in other states, not so much as they wait for inter state travel to be approved and border restrictions loosened.

The Sydney Morning Herald also reports today that Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham is forging ahead for trans Tasman travel regardless of border controls. 

“If New Zealand and some Australian states are ready and willing to progress, then the reluctance of other states to open up their domestic borders shouldn’t become an obstacle to progress” Birmingham told the newspaper.

This could mean that trans Tasman flights from New South Wales and Victoria to New Zealand are the first to resume, and that other states may have to wait before borders open up so skiers and boarders can without a mandatory quarantine upon return to their home state.

Another question to be flagged for New Zealand ski fields in particular is, should flights open and Australian skiers and boarders choose to travel then will their current “no daily skier number restrictions” remain or need to be capped?

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.