Trying to get a spot in NZ’s MIQ System

If you’re a Kiwi/New Zealander who has been living overseas since the pandemic started, you’re probably familiar with this booking site, where you need to book your managed isolation spot before you are allowed in.

The thing is, it’s damn near impossible (I’m not exaggerating here), to get a spot.

Like many Kiwis, I’ve been waiting patiently for borders to open and have been dismayed by the slow vaccination rate (Currently roughly 15% of the population is fully vaccinated). I’m dismayed by this because I assume that the borders will stay closed until a large majority of the NZ population is vaccinated, but we won’t know for sure until later (the NZ prime minister has stated there isn’t a vaccination percentage goal that would allow the border to open).

Now, as part of the general public, I have no insight as to how this site was built or what testing process was part of building this site – but based on my experience in trying to use this site and my background as a tester, here are a few things I have learned.

To be clear, we do not know:

  • Which web browsers were tested on?
  • Which mobile browsers which tested on?
  • Which operation systems were tested on? (e.g. Just Windows? Both Windows and MacOS?)
  • Whether saved log in details that are inbuilt in mobile and web browsers were tested with? (did the testers just enter the details manually each time, or did they use the inbuilt stuff as well)
  • Did they conduct any user testing while building the site to see how users would actually use/interact with the booking system?

If, you’re reading this and are also having problems with login, actually booking a spot, timed out user sessions etc, here are some potentially useful tips for you (aside from paying for bots or building bots):

  1. Try a different web or mobile browser. (We don’t know on which browsers the testers tested on, if things don’t work on your browser, e.g. you can’t login, then try a different browser). For example, if you are having problems with Safari, then try Firefox or Chrome.
  2. Try enter login details manually instead of using the inbuilt user details option you have (e.g. on Apple iPhones you have FaceID or TouchID, but if you use this, then it tries to log you in without triggering the captcha, which then means you need to start all over again).
  3. Be aware of the user session timeout. (In my experience it times out in like 15-20 minutes of inactivity but I haven’t properly tested this to know exactly when the user session times out so could be more or less). Be aware of the length of the user session because you may find yourself refreshing the page to see timeslots, then realise you can’t book the timeslot because you have been logged out.
  4. To keep your user session from timing out you’ll (probably) need to send a request to the server i.e. clicking the back and forth buttons to navigate between months probably wont do that. To do this, I suggest constantly refreshing the page. (Rule of thumb, if you notice that the URL of the site has changed, then you have probably sent a request to the server, but refreshing the page should also do the trick).
  5. TBC: Based on my experience, you need to actually be logged in to make a booking if you see an open timeslot. Unfortunately, whenever I have seen an open timeslot my user session has timed out, so nothing happens when I click on an available date. I am unsure of this one – if you have any input here, please let me know

Have you tried to use NZ’s MIQ booking portal?

Have you encountered other issues? (Aside from being unable to find a spot)

What has your experience been like in using NZ’s MIQ booking portal?

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