Gulf Harbour Radio
Pre departure covid testing
Prior to departure from NZ for Fiji you need to get a negative covid test result and send this off to your agent in Fiji. This is not quite as straightforward as it sounds. No problem if you are in a main centre like Auckland but not so easy elsewhere. The test must be completed and approval received no more than 72 hours prior to departure. Good luck on finding a test centre over the weekend! Those wanting to depart from Opua need to contact The Doctors at Kerikeri, tel 09 4077777, to book a test. Take your passport and $250 per person. The results come back via an official email within 2 days. Could be sooner but allow 2 days. The paperwork you fill in for your half hour appointment will take all your contact details. Be sure to stress the need for the results to come back with a letterhead as without that your agent cannot use them. The result must be emailed before 12.30 pm and you will get approval back by 5pm. If you will be sending over the weekend you will need to give your agent a heads up for it to be handled over the weekend. So to repeat, your official on letterhead result needs to be emailed to the agent by 12.30pm on the day before you want to leave.
In Pahia , Bayview Medical Centre, do have covid testing but with only 1 doctor and 1 nurse they are virtually fully booked with servicing the local community. They cannot do random testing and can only possibly handle one or two at a time. Ph 09 4027132
On arrival at Denerau The Fijian Navy want you to anchor in one of two quarantine anchorages. The first is preferred but neither are good for running a water maker. (They are a bit bumpy and really more suitable for big ships).
17 45.000S and 177 22.5000E
17 44.000S and 177 22. 750E
14 June 2021. And a welcome update. Prior to this crew were not allowed to go ashore but could sail anywhere once they had the blue lane pass. Now cleared boats can go ashore provided they adhere to Covid protocols. See the following for details. And please note that boats that cleared in Savusavu cannot go to VitiLevu but can go to all other islands. Make sure your AIS is on as failure to adhere to the rules could result in seizure of your boat.
Arrival in NZ
Requirements are still somewhat confusing and flexible so best to check the government web site for the latest information. There are different requirements from so called ''bubble countries' .
Excerpts from a letter received last year are
" 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"
Fiji now has a significant number of active Covid cases but at time of writing are still operating using the 'blue lane' system' so are the only Island group available to cruisers in the 2021 season. The situation is very fluid so check their web site. A few boats have arrived or are about to leave. After their negative Covid test and approval from Fiji the boat must leave within 72 hours which can sometimes mean the weather has changed unless you have timed your Covid test well! Getting a test in the weekend is problematical.
You are required to do a direct trip, using AIS, 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! You can enter at Denerau or Savusavu and complete your 14 day isolation before getting a covid free test and your blue lane flag.
The following was issued June 14 ( thanks Charles on Vingilot) and covers the latest protocol
Tonga has absolutely no entry and during 2020 a Tongan navy vessel was 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 but I have not confirmed this for 2021.
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
It seems the visa extension process is working , if a little frustrating.
"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.