Travelling on public transport

Advice on how to travel safely on public transport, including buses, trains, domestic flights, taxis and ride-shares.

Guidance at all Alert Levels

Always wear a face covering on public transport

Everyone 12 years and older legally must wear a face covering on public transport at all Alert Levels. Drivers of taxi and ride-share services legally must wear face coverings. Passengers of taxi and ride-share services legally must wear a face covering at Alert Level 2 and above, but are only encouraged at Alert Level 1.

Drivers and transport operators will not stop people without face coverings from boarding public transport. This is because some people will have legitimate reasons for not wearing a face covering.

However, where possible, drivers will be encouraging passengers to wear a face covering.

Who does not need to wear a face covering

Practise good hygiene habits

  • Wash your hands before and after travelling.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  • Where possible, use hand sanitiser before and after you enter or exit public transport.
  • When you get home, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and dry them thoroughly.

Scan in or keep a record of which service you travel 

Scan the QR code or keep a record of which service you travelled with and when. This will help with contract tracing for any cases in your community.

Public transport at Alert Level 1

At Alert Level 1, you can travel but try to do it in a safe way.

  • We recommend you do not use public transport if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Always wear a face covering on public transport and domestic flights, unless you have an exemption.
    Face covering exemptions for some people and services
  • Practise good hygiene habits.
  • Scan in with NZ COVID Tracer or keep a record of which service you travel.

Taxi and ride-share services at Alert Level 1

  • Drivers of taxis and ride-share services must wear a face covering, and passengers are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering too. 
  • Drivers must display QR code posters to help you keep track of where you’ve been. We recommend you use the NZ COVID Tracer app to do this, or another way that works for you.

Living at Alert Level 1

Public transport at Alert Level 2

At Alert Level 2, you can travel, but make sure you do it in a safe way.

  • Do not travel to events which do not meet the requirements for gatherings at Alert Level 2.
  • You should not use public transport if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Always wear a face covering on public transport and domestic flights, unless you have an exemption.
    Who does not need to wear a face covering
  • Practise good hygiene habits.
  • Scan in with NZ COVID Tracer or keep a record of which service you travel.
  • Do not travel if you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, are awaiting a test or if you need to self-isolate.

Remember to be kind and respectful to drivers and your fellow passengers.

Living at Alert Level 2

Travel into and out of Northland

Travelling into and out of Northland is a little more difficult while it shares a boundary with Auckland.

Find out more about travelling into and out of Northland

Taxi and ride-share services at Alert Level 2

  • If you are healthy and do not have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you can use taxis and ride-share services.
  • Apart from the driver only travel with people you know, for example friends and family.
  • Minimise the number of stops on the way to your destination.
  • Passengers and drivers of taxis and ride-share services must wear a face covering.
  • Drivers must display QR code posters to help you keep track of where you’ve been. Use NZ COVID Tracer to do this, or another way that works for you.

Domestic flights at Alert Level 2

You can take a domestic flight anywhere in New Zealand at Alert Level 1 or 2.

  • Follow all the guidance from transport operators and crew.
  • Sit only in your allocated seat onboard the flight.
  • Maintain physical distancing where you can.
  • Keep a record of your journey.
  • Always wear a face covering, unless you have an exemption.
    Who does not need to wear a face covering
  • Practise good hygiene habits.

If you need to cross an Alert Level boundary, you need to check if you are permitted to travel.

Travel across Alert Level boundaries

Cook Strait ferries at Alert Level 2

You can use the Cook Strait ferries for recreation and tourism. 

  • Follow the instructions and guidance from crew and transport operators.
  • Maintain physical distancing where you can.
  • Keep a record of your journey.
  • Always wear a face covering, unless you have an exemption.
    Who does not need to wear a face covering
  • Comply with any temporary barriers and seat signage telling you where you are allowed to sit.
  • Maintain good hygiene all the time — wash your hands regularly, sneeze or cough into your elbow.

Regional travel at Alert Level 2

Travel between Alert Level areas is strictly limited.

Anyone wanting to travel across Alert Level boundaries needs to check whether they are permitted to do so.

Public transport at Alert Level 3

At Alert Level 3, travel is restricted and only allowed for permitted movement in your local area — for example going to work or school if you need to, shopping or getting exercise.

Your local area means the area near your home that you regularly visit for essential services. What is considered local will differ depending on where you live. City dwellers may have a supermarket or dairy close by. If you live rurally, you may need to take a drive to reach these.

To help achieve physical distancing, numbers of people on public transport are limited. You must be seated when you are on public transport — the service will not be able to carry passengers who are standing.

This rule does not apply to:

  • dedicated school buses
  • the Cook Strait Ferry.

If you think your service may be full, you could plan your journey to travel later or earlier than your usual time. it is a good idea to speak with your employer to see if you can change your work hours, or work flexibly.

Remember to be kind and respectful to drivers and your fellow passengers.

If you do not have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you can use public transport for only the following reasons:

  • accessing local services and businesses
  • going to work or school for those who have to
  • low-risk exercise in your local area
  • visiting people in your bubble
  • travelling to permitted gatherings.

Remember, any unnecessary travel may spread COVID-19.

Taxi and ride-share services at Alert Level 3

  • Apart from the driver, only travel with people you know, for example friends and family.
  • Minimise the number of stops on the way to your destination.
  • Drivers and passengers of taxis and ride-share services legally must wear a face covering. 
  • Drivers legally must display QR code posters to help you keep track of where you’ve been. We recommend you use the NZ COVID Tracer app to do this, or another way that works for you.

If you do not have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you can use taxis and ride-share services for only the following reasons:

  • accessing local services and businesses
  • going to work or school for those who have to
  • low-risk exercise in your local area
  • visiting people in your bubble
  • travelling to permitted gatherings.

Remember, any unnecessary travel may spread COVID-19.

Living at Alert Level 3

Regional travel at Alert Level 3

Travel between Alert Level areas is strictly limited.

Anyone wanting to travel across an Alert Level boundary needs to check whether they are permitted to do so.

Public transport at Alert Level 4

You can use public transport for essential personal movement. This includes taxis and rideshares.

We recommend you do not travel if you:

  • have been requested to self-isolate
  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • are waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

You must keep 1 metre apart from everyone on public transport and at transport stations, where possible. There are some situations where this is not possible, for example in a taxi or ride-share. 

Even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to follow the rules to keep everyone safe. 

Remember, any unnecessary travel may spread COVID-19. 

  • Always wear a face covering on public transport, unless you have an exemption.
    Who does not need to wear a face covering
  • Practise good hygiene habits. 
  • Scan in with the NZ COVID Tracer app or keep a record of which service you travel.

To help achieve physical distancing, numbers of people on public transport are limited. You must be seated when you are on public transport — the service will not be able to carry passengers who are standing.

This rule does not apply to:

  • dedicated school buses
  • the Cook Strait Ferry.

If you think your service may be full, you could plan your journey to travel later or earlier than your usual time. it is a good idea to speak with your employer to see if you can change your work hours, or work flexibly.

Remember to be kind and respectful to drivers and your fellow passengers.

Permitted movement at Alert Level 4

Non-essential travel

Non-essential travel, like travel to a second home or holiday home, is not allowed.

If you travelled to a second home or bach, you will not be told to return home. You must stay where you are until restrictions on travel have lifted. The safest place for whānau to be is at home.

Travelling to work within Alert Level 4

If you are an Alert Level 4 worker and you are permitted to leave home to work, you can use public transport to get there.

You may be asked to show who you work for so you can show you have a reason to travel. We recommend your employer provide you with a letter to confirm:

  • your name
  • that you are providing an Alert Level 4 business or service, and
  • your destination.

Permitted movement within Alert Level 4

Getting vaccinated

You can use any travel method to get to your COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Travelling with others

If someone in your household bubble needs help to travel for essential personal movement, you can travel with them. You can travel with them by any method, like public transport, taxis or ride-shares, or private car.

Travelling over Alert Level boundaries

If you are unwell

If you are unwell and you need to travel, you should use private transport if possible. If private transport is not available, call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice.

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