Wellington: Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters wants a trans-Tasman travel bubble created in time for the snow season, but warns that any quarantine regulations would deter any tourists.
As winter approaches and snow-field operators sense the chill of a lost season, Mr Peters gave skiers cause for optimism, while taking a swipe at the rival market.
"I know what the skiing is like in the Snowy Mountains. The Snowy Mountains are not a big place for skiing compared with South Island," he said on Thursday. "Given that 55 per cent of our tourists come from Australia, the sooner as we get some sense of normalcy ... the better."
Mr Peters said the resumption of regular travel depended on community transmission ending in both countries, which would negate the need for current quarantining arrangements.
"We can open this border on the basis that there's non-transmission in both the populations," Mr Peters said. "The moment you put in a 14-day quarantine requirement, forget it."
"We're very close to being able to say we got on top of it in terms of community transmission.
"We're not going to eliminate it. We're not going to eradicate it. But we're beating the crap out of it and so is Australia."
Both New Zealand and Australia have closed their borders to foreign travellers as part of far-reaching responses to COVID-19.
The measures have shut down the tourism industry to international visitors on both sides of the Tasman.
Tourism workers in New Zealand have been supported by the 12-week wage subsidies issued by Jacinda Ardern's government, which are roughly six weeks away from running out.
The government has yet to unveil any further support.
Ms Peters' eagerness to reboot the economy is at odds with Ardern's health-first approach.
Speaking earlier on Thursday, just down the hall in Parliament House, the Prime Minister described the re-opening of borders as a "longer term goal".
That would suggest the ski season, which begins in June and runs through to October, was not on the table.
"We are both as countries working really hard to keep control of COVID-19 and our goal is to make life feel as normal as possible," Ms Ardern said. "Eventually I would hope that would mean our ability to have movement between our countries but that is a longer term goal."
On Thursday, health officials announced just three fresh cases in New Zealand - the 12th straight day they've announced a single-digit tally.
The country's COVID-19 death toll stands at 19.