Queenstown and Wānaka ready and waiting to welcome Aussies back

Autumn sunset in Queenstown

Queenstown Airport and regional tourism organisations Destination Queenstown and Lake Wānaka Tourism are delighted by today’s announcement that the New Zealand border will reopen to Australian visitors from 11:59pm on 12 April and other visa-waiver visitors from 1 May.

Queenstown Airport CEO Glen Sowry says this is the news we have been waiting for. We can’t wait to welcome Australians to the Southern Lakes region through Queenstown Airport soon. The opening of the border to Australians without the requirement to self-isolate is a vital step towards the region’s recovery.

Sowry expects to see a gradual return of direct flights from the east coast of Australia to Queenstown over the next two months, traditionally a quieter season in the Southern Lakes region, while airlines and border agencies gear up to for a busy ski season.

“We are working closely with our four airline partners and the border agencies to ensure a smooth reopening here at Queenstown.”

“Prior to the pandemic, 30% of all passengers at Queenstown Airport arrived and departed on trans-Tasman flights, so Australia is a really important market for us,” adds Sowry.

The trans-Tasman flight schedule is expected to be updated regularly over the coming weeks.

Destination Queenstown Board Chair Richard Thomas says this is the best news we’ve had in two years and is a huge relief for local businesses.

“We are open and ready to welcome our Aussie friends here in time for the Easter holidays and during Autumn, one of the most beautiful times of the year. There is pent-up demand from the Australian market and we know they are keen to visit Queenstown.”

“DQ has been preparing for this moment and is set to go-live with consumer marketing activity in the Australian market from this Friday. We will be showcasing all that the region has on offer and encouraging Aussies to book with confidence and come visit us, whether that’s for our stunning autumn colours or to experience our epic alpine winter.”

“It’s been a challenging couple of years but local businesses have adapted incredibly well with considerable support from the domestic market. We are hopeful that will remain even when borders do open, and we are looking forward to welcoming both Kiwis and international visitors to Queenstown soon,” adds Thomas.

Tim Barke GM Lake Wānaka Tourism says today’s announcement is light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel.

“The Wānaka region has a long history of welcoming travellers and we look forward to once again hosting visitors to this very special part of the world,” adds Barke.