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New Zealand puts out the e-welcome mat for China

Travelling to New Zealand has just become faster for Chinese travellers with the extension of eGate services to Chinese passport holders.

Travelling to New Zealand has just become faster for Chinese travellers with the extension of eGate services to Chinese passport holders.

The automated eGate uses facial recognition, matching the traveller’s passport photograph with a photo taken of them at the New Zealand Customs gate. The gate automatically opens if the photos are matched – a process that takes around 10 seconds.

New Zealand introduced eGate technology in 2009 and rolled the service out to its Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown international airports. Since then more than 24 million travellers with New Zealand, Australian, British, Canadian, or US passports have enjoyed the ease of travelling through the service with 51 eGates operational.

The Chinese government introduced ‘biometric ordinary passports’ in 2012, which include embedded fingerprint data. It is estimated around 100 million Chinese nationals now hold these passports.

“China is our second largest visitor market. In the past year (to September) more than 407,000 Chinese passport holders visited New Zealand contributing more than $2.3 billion to our economy. The new eGate system will allow these travellers to enter New Zealand more easily so they can start enjoy their visit sooner – rather than being stuck in lengthy queues. With visitor numbers set to increase this is a very timely addition,” says Tourism New Zealand’s General Manager Asia Gregg Wafelbakker.

“Most major international airports now provide an eGate service, however New Zealand is one of the few countries outside China that has extended the service to Chinese e-passport holders. It is just another way that New Zealand is extending the welcome mat to China and ensuring travellers enjoy the 100% Pure New Zealand experience.”

Chinese passport holders over the age of 12 can use the eGate service in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown International Airports.