NZ: Whangārei-based yachties facing cyclones make plea to Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

Yachties stranded in NZ with visas expiring in April 2021 are pleading with NZ Immigration to have their visas extended. This report from NZ Herald Northern Advocate Newspaper.

Published 2 years ago

Official New Zealand Immigration Logo
Official Logo © Immigration NZ

The NZ Herald reports that cruisers based in Whangārei are pleading with the Government to let them stay in New Zealand until 2022, despite their visas expiring in April this year.

Although the South Pacific cyclone season officially ends at the end of April, there is no guarantee of safe conditions until June. Many foreign cruising boats that sailed to New Zealand in late 2019 ended up getting stuck in the country when borders started closing at the start of 2020. Even if it were safe to leave NZ in April, the only country in the Pacific accepting international yachts is Fiji.

No onward cruising from Fiji is currently possible, so rather than being stuck there for the next cyclone season cruisers currently in NZ believe the safest option is to stay in New Zealand until June 2022, after the next cyclone season, when other Pacific countries may have their borders open.

The uncertainty is causing significant anxiety among the international yachting community in Whangārei.

Some have even received letters from New Zealand Visa Application Centre in Beijing, telling them they must leave the country by February 25. Many cruisers are waiting for an answer from Immigration in Beijing, but these are slow to come due to the Chinese New Year public holidays. Those that have an application in the system and don’t hear anything by 25 February should automatically be issued with an interim visa to maintain lawful status. It is however a worrying time for many.

The NZ Government have made multiple visa extensions and introduced a two-month Covid-related visa, allowing yachties to stay in a relatively Covid-safe country. Using their time in NZ to benefit their host country many cruisers have become involved in local volunteering groups, such as Red Cross, SPCA, and Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre. A group of cruisers banded together to raise more than $4000 through events and a cookbook to provide marine apprenticeships to local high school students.

A Facebook page has been set up for sailors with COVID Immigation issues in NZ.

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  1. February 19, 2021 at 3:28 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    18 February, 2021 – Press Release by NZ Government
    Government eases visa restrictions for visitors in New Zealand

    •Two month automatic visitor visa extension for most visitor visa holders
    •Temporary waiver of time spent in New Zealand rule for visitor stays

    Visitor visa holders will be able to stay in New Zealand a little longer as the Government eases restrictions for those still here, the Minister of Immigration has announced.

    “The Government recognises that some visitor visa holders are keen to stay in New Zealand longer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still attacking communities in their home countries,” Kris Faafoi said.

    “We have also listened to New Zealand’s business sector, including tourism ventures, which say foreign visitors who are still here can help our local economies.

    “So, where people are here on visitor visas which expire on or before 31 March 2021, the Government will allow their visitor visas to be automatically extend by two months. During that two month extension, which will be applied from the date of expiry on their current visa, they will need to apply for a new visa to stay longer,” Kris Faafoi said.

    More details at