20 Dec 2016

South Africa reassures NZ travellers over new visa

5:08 pm on 20 December 2016

South Africa will not require travellers to get a visa if they arrive in the country before it changes its visa rules, its government says.

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Photo: 123rf

In response to New Zealand dropping visa-free travel for South Africans, that country's government has announced that, from 16 January 2017, New Zealanders will need three-month holiday visas to visit.

The South African Embassy was inundated with calls from confused travellers after Air New Zealand warned them they had to have a visa - even if they arrived in South Africa before the changes came into effect.

To get a visa on short notice, travellers would have to go to Wellington, which in itself could be difficult around Christmas, and flights from South Africa back to New Zealand before the cut-off date were almost fully booked.

South Africa's High Commissioner to New Zealand, Zodwa Lallie, said only those whose trips began on or after 16 January would require a visa - and there would be some flexibility after the changes kicked in.

"For people who already have made plans or are making plans to travel to South Africa, no visa is necessary and our system will recognise them and they will not have a problem leaving South Africa within the usual 90-day period to return to New Zealand," she said.

She said the South African government was looking at options to create a visa-issuing office in Auckland, but until then travellers would have to go to the High Commission in Wellington.

South Africans looking to visit New Zealand have required a visitor visa since 21 November.