New Zealand now has the 'most powerful' passport in the world, it has been confirmed.
The Passport Index ranks 193 United Nations member states and six territories by the number of countries their travel documents can gain them access to.
And according to the latest figures, New Zealanders are able to get visa-free access, e-visa or visa-on-entry to 129 countries.
That's 49 more countries than during the very height of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, though still well behind the 169 states residents could travel to last year.
This puts it ahead of Germany, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Japan, South Korea and Australia, whose passports give their citizens access to 128 countries.
Meanwhile people in the United Kingdom can only get into 126 countries at the moment, up from 112 a few months ago but way down from 169 last year.
Speaking to Stuff about the new rankings, Hrant Boghossian from Passport Index said the country's position is testament to how well New Zealand's government has dealt with the pandemic.
He told the site: "New Zealand's excellent handling of the Covid-19 crisis is reflected in its citizens quickly being accepted to travel to other nations.
"USA passport holders, for example, were able to travel to the same number of countries as New Zealand (80). Due to the poor handling of Covid-19, not many countries welcome American travellers and their Mobility Score has only recovered by 15 percent to 92 countries."
This news comes as the New Zealand government announced it had reached an agreement with Australian leaders to form a travel bubble.
The first stage of the Trans-Tasman bubble will only allow Kiwis to fly to New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
Planes are expected to start flying as early as within the next fortnight.
Sadly, Aussies won't be able to fly across the ditch to do the same, as their country still has some work to do to ensure no one who is sick gets on a plane.
Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said it's an important first step to ensuring the travel relationship between New Zealand and Australia remains strong.
"This is the first stage in what we hope to see as a trans-Tasman bubble between the two countries, not just that state and that territory," he said.
"This will allow New Zealanders and other residents in New Zealand who have not been in an area designated as a Covid-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the preceding 14 days to travel quarantine-free."
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