Gulf Harbour Radio
Today I received a rather distressing letter from the Minister of Immigration which affects those foreign crew planning on coming to NZ for the cyclone season.
Arrival in NZ
I have been corresponding with those in the NZ government and departments concerning the late season arrival of foreign boats and crew . The letter received today from the Minister of Immigration clarifies current thinking. Please note it does not cover NZ citizens who can make application and arrive as normal providing quarantine or 14 days at sea conditions are met. I will put the full letter I received in the Flotsam section. The latter part is copied here:
" Applications for permission for a yacht to come to New Zealand, including under the humanitarian or compelling reasons, can be made to the Director-General of Health (see Flotsam for web address).
The maritime border exception would be unlikely to enable the granting of visas and entry to foreign nationals on yachts for situations relating solely to financial loss or to vessels travelling primarily for pleasure or convenience such as tourists or 'wintering over'. People in vessels travelling to New Zealand to 'winter over' (for example, to avoid hurricane/cyclone season in the Pacific) may have other genuine humanitarian reasons or other compelling needs for coming, which would need to be demonstrated to qualify for an exception. I hope that this information is helpful to you. Thank you for writing. Yours sincerely , Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister of Immigration"
The situation is very fluid and Fiji's government now has a system for entering Fiji but only into Denerau. A few NZ boats have left or are about to leave. After their negative Covid test and approval from Fiji they must leave within 2 days which can sometimes mean the weather has changed unless they time their covid test well!
They are required to do a direct trip and anything less than 14 days will require a stay in the quarantine area. If a stop is made in Minerva reef then your time starts again from there!
The following is from their web site:
There are however strict conditions to follow to ensure entry. The PM’s speech highlights the requirements:
Fiji will be establishing safe ‘blue lanes‘, open to those yachts and pleasure crafts sailing to Fiji. Any boat coming to Fiji will be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. The only port of entry will be Port Denarau Marina. If this pilot project is successful, extending blue lanes to other ports and marinas will be considered.
Those eligible to sail to Fiji fall under two categories, both of which will require them to be tested in another country before departing.
Tonga has absolutely no entry and there is a Tongan navy vessel at Minerva Reef to stop boats entering there.
New Caledonia gives permission to enter for fuel if you notify them at least a week earlier. Prior to going to the fuel dock you must stay in the quarantine area and get other deliveries from an agent.
The Cook Islands have successfully kept Covid out of their Islands so will not be looking to open up any time soon.
Vanuatu appears to be closed for the remainder of 2020.
Australia has one port of entry at Bundaberg Queensland. Strict protocols for testing and quarantine are in place so follow their rules. At least you can make entry there.
Good news for those already in NZ- as of August 5, 2020
Thanks to a RadioNZ reporter who managed to get a response from the Immigration Department, we have good news for foreign crew. "As long as an individual holds a current visa and are in New Zealand, they can apply for another visitor visa and if granted, will allow a stay of up to 12 months. If a crew member needs to stay longer they can apply for further visas". Well done Tracy Neal!
"Each application is assessed by an immigration officer and will be determined on a case-by-case basis, as per the current immigration instructions. INZ can apply discretion and flexibility in assessing requests for visitor visas for individuals who are already in New Zealand, as we are aware of the challenges that some foreign yacht owners are facing, due to COVID-19".
A health check is required and although costly it is probably a good thing to have a 'personal rig check' from time to time. I believe it costs about NZ$500 per person.
We hope you are enjoying winter cruising around NZ. We are!
If anyone has any fresh information please contact the following who will pass the information to those in the loop.