Trans Tasman bubble by mid April – will they or won’t they?

Photo credit: The Remarkables

There’s been a ton of chatter across mainstream media today about the trans Tasman bubble with quarantine free travel between Australia and New Zealand.

The SnowsBest team have started to feel like the boy who cried wolf of late with the number of times we’ve announced it was planned, expected, going to happen and the number of times it then hasn’t. With Covid clusters and interstate and cross Tasman lockdowns, the light at the end of the tunnel became but a glimmer of hope.

Now it’s all ramped up again with talk that an announcement could be made as soon as Monday and the word is, given Air New Zealand’s increased flight schedule, that bubble may open from April 19.

Could we actually be clicking into skis on New Zealand slopes this July and August? Will Queenstown’s struggling tourism industry receive some Aussie dollar respite?

Say it is so.

The New Zealand cabinet committee is currently in discussions about how that bubble will actually look and work. Auckland Airport would need 10 days notice to be ready for that bubble and airlines need three weeks.

However, should the bubble open then save your pennies and take a wad of dollars because if you get stuck for a few days or more in either country due to a Covid cluster, you’ll need to support yourself.

Think of New Zealand as an extra state (sorry Kiwis we 500% know you’re not) and while some states in Australia are open to others during region lockdowns, some shut up shop. It’s expected the same thing will happen between states and our neighbours across the ditch should Covid cases pop up.

Then let’s also talk about travel insurance and who will and won’t offer Covid-19 insurance for trans Tasman cancellations and trip rescheduling plus accommodation costs if stuck. It’s doubtful any will, for now.

Though you’ll still get travel insurance to ski in New Zealand, so there is that. The risk is yours when making your booking – the same risks Australians already know if they live in the revolving lockdown doors of the eastern states.

Should it happen (fingers crossed, please, please, please) it will, of course, be wonderful to see families reunited, for one. But it will be even more wonderful to see the Southern Alps for the first time in what is really only a year, but has felt like ten, because, you know, Covid time.

Picture flying into Queenstown, snow laden peaks and azure lakes below.

All those side trips to Milford Sound, the polenta fries at the Fork and Tap in Arrowtown, the weaving waters of Glenorchy, the wine oh the wine, even the road up to Mt Hutt appeals right now.

The nutcracker rope tows of the club fields in Canterbury are calling our names, the giant carrot in Ohakune and the rolling bowls of Turoa, the ice bar atop of Coronet Peak, the cheese scones at Federal Diner in Wanaka.

There’s no word from the Australian government on the bubble this week. Though watch this space. When they do announce the bubble, it will no doubt come with clear rules and guidelines for we leisure travellers so we can plan ahead.

Did we mention there are three months until the lifts start turning?

That glimmer has now turned back to a shining light (we hope).

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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.