Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says some businesses could be saved if the country creates a trans-Tasman bubble - and he's open to starting on a state-by-state basis.
As the government looks to recover from the economic blow that lockdown has caused, Mr Peters said New Zealand had to think outside the square.
Fifty-five per cent of tourists who visit New Zealand come from Australia and the Foreign Affairs minister said it therefore made sense to start planning how a trans-Tasman travel bubble might work.
"Areas that are being written off now may not be written off if we are thinking outside of the square so to speak, thinking laterally and how we can organise - admittedly at a limited level - the same activity," Mr Peters said.
"So, it requires us to put our best minds together here and in Australia. I've spoken to the Foreign Minister in Australia about the need for us to start thinking about that now,'' he added.
The Minister said a strict regime at the border would be needed to ensure public safety - and he would not expect the border to open until both countries were at the point that a 14-day quarantine on arrival was no longer needed.
While the focus is getting tourists flowing between New Zealand and all of Australia - Mr Peters said he was not opposed to initially opening up to the Australian eastern border.
"We're open to both options in my thinking but the more limited option will lead to the wider option in time - and more quickly than we think.''
Mr Peters said a state-by-state basis was also a possibility and when the whole country was ready, New Zealand needed to be too.
"But it's more than likely they will come together, and sooner rather than later. And when they do we should be prepared for them.''
He said he was working hard on a plan after both he and [Australian Prime Minister Scott] Morrison raised the issue separately.
"My officials are talking to the Australian officials about it. How much wider it is outside that portfolio I can't describe.
"But at least we've taken the concept from last week and put some work into it,'' the Deputy Prime Minister said.