Aug 12, 2022 - World

Cruise ships return to New Zealand after COVID hiatus

The Pacific Explorer arrives in Auckland Harbour on August 12, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand.
The Pacific Explorer arrives in Waitematā Harbor in Auckland, New Zealand, on Aug. 12. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

New Zealand has welcomed back the first cruise ship since the country closed its borders in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.

The big picture: Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement that the arrival in Auckland of Carnival Australia's Pacific Explorer cruise ship carrying some 2,000 passengers and crew was "another boost for local communities" after the government dropped pandemic restrictions at the border earlier this month.

A Ngati Whatua group welcomes passengers as the Pacific Explorer arrives in Auckland Harbour on August 12, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand.
A local Māori group welcomes passengers off the Pacific Explorer which docked in in Auckland for the day as part of a trip to Fiji. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

By the numbers: Officials expect cruise ship numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels, at which visits were worth in excess of NZ$500 million (US$322 million) a year, of which NZ$356 million was spent onshore, according to Nash.

  • Pre-pandemic tourism spending generated NZ$40.9 billion (US$26 million) and made a direct annual contribution to gross domestic product of 5.5%.

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