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What NZ short-term rental & Airbnb owners can expect from new covid rules and borders fully opening

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

What NZ Short-Term Rental & Airbnb Owners Can Expect from New Covid Rules and Borders Fully Opening

With the remaining border restrictions having just been lifted at the end of July, New Zealand is now once again open to the world! That means that from Monday 1 August, all visa categories have reopened for applications and people can travel to New Zealand from anywhere in the world, subject to the usual visa requirements.

New Zealand has been gradually re-opening its borders, helping to restart travel and the tourism sector. Visitors from Australia have been allowed to enter New Zealand since April, with travellers from a range of 60 visa-waiver countries allowed to come here from May.

According to Trading Economics, the number of visitor arrivals in New Zealand rose by 26.3% year-on-year to 72,755 in May 2022 - the largest increase since the start of the pandemic. This extends the surge from the two previous months with pandemic border restrictions relaxed in late February. The largest increases in visitors were from the United States (+3,587), the United Kingdom (+3,254), Singapore (+1,553), and Canada (+1,094).

Visitor arrivals in New Zealand rose by 26.3% year-on-year to 72,755 in May 2022

Short-term rental stimulating travel demand

In a ground-breaking report by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel and tourism sector’s ability to welcome travellers has increased partly due to the rising popularity of short-term rentals.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “We know travellers are ready to explore the world once again and their return will also help power the world’s much-needed economic recovery.”

Theo Yedinsky, Airbnb Global Policy Director, said: “Short-term rentals allows everyday people to take part in the tourism economy, and the income earned through hosting is helping many people navigate the impacts of inflation.

“In fact, approximately 35% of Airbnb hosts globally say they host to help cover the rising cost of living. Additionally, short-term rentals help spread visitor spending through communities.

AirDNA projects that US occupancy growth in the first half of 2022 exceeded 2019’s level by +7.5% and by the end of last year, the “alternative lodging sector” had recovered to 81% of its pre-pandemic performance levels.

What does the border opening mean for you as an Airbnb or holiday home owner? Here are the main things you need to be aware of.

Traffic Light Setting

While New Zealand’s borders are reopening at the end of the month, it doesn’t mean all restrictions are being lifted. In fact, the country is still at the orange traffic light setting. This is the middle setting, so there are some restrictions and recommendations.

However, large gatherings can take place, and schools and workplaces can operate as normal. In most settings, masks are optional.

For owners, it means your holiday and short-term rentals can remain open. Domestic travel to anywhere in New Zealand is also allowed.


Anyone who contracts Covid-19, whether they live in New Zealand or are travelling here, must self-isolate for seven days.

If travellers test positive for Covid-19, they are responsible for finding suitable accommodation for the isolation period.

Government guidelines are that for accommodation to be suitable for self-isolation, it must be self-contained. Anyone staying or travelling with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 also has to self-isolate for seven days.

Whilst we obviously do not want to see our travelling friends become unwell, seven-day isolation periods may create further opportunities for owners of short-term rental accommodation, as any type of hotel with shared spaces or facilities will not be deemed as appropriate self-isolation accommodation.

Vaccination Requirements

Most people travelling to New Zealand will need to be vaccinated. The exceptions are New Zealand citizens and residents, Australian citizens who live in New Zealand, and children aged 16 and under.

People coming to New Zealand also need to prove they are vaccinated. They can do that by getting a digital vaccine passport or another valid document from a government health authority that confirms their vaccination status.

New Zealand Traveller Declarations

Travellers coming to the country from abroad also need to complete the New Zealand Traveller Declaration. This process includes uploading proof of vaccination.

Covid-19 Testing

One of the big changes that will come into effect at the end of the month is that pre-departure testing will no longer be required. This will make travelling to New Zealand easier and more appealing.

However, there is still a testing requirement, as those arriving in New Zealand must take two rapid antigen tests – the first on the day they arrive and the second on day five or six. Children under six months old are exempt.

Travellers arriving in NZ will be provided with testing kits, and all rapid antigen test results must be declared. Positive results must be followed up with a PCR test.

Guest Expectations

The reopening of borders will allow more people to come to New Zealand, but there is one thing that rules and guidelines can’t completely control – the expectations of guests. Most in the accommodation and tourism industry are erring on the side of caution, with the goal of providing reassurance to guests that suitable precautions are being taken.

Covid-19 Cancellations

It’s important to be aware that most accommodation booking portals, including Airbnb, have ended their Covid-19 cancellation policies. This means the cancellation policies of accommodation hosts are now the default - our cancellation policy will now apply if a booking must be cancelled because of Covid-19.

Embracing the Potential

While the situation may take some time to return to pre-pandemic normalities, we in the short-term let and holiday accommodation sectors are welcoming the relaxation of rules, the opening of the borders and the increase in demand that generate.

Because what is for certain, is that international enquiry and travel is on the increase and booking calendars are filling as we welcome our international friends once again.

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