Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the decision on Friday, and said the ban was necessary to "safeguard New Zealand's clean, green reputation."
Retailers nationwide seemed to agree, and were quick to voice their support after the announcement, a stark contrast to the recent furor in neighboring Australia over a similar plastic bag ban.
There, plans by major retailers to phase out single-use plastic bags caused outrage, and even violence towards a checkout worker whose neck was grabbed by an angry customer, local media reported.
There haven't been many signs of resistance so far in New Zealand, said associate environment minister Eugenie Sage.
Still, they're not taking any risks. The process will begin with a consultation period, during which people can submit concerns and suggestions online.
"We're listening to New Zealanders who want us to take action on this problem," Ardern said in her statement. "We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start."
New Zealand officials are confident their citizens are ready for the change.
In her statement, Ardern pointed to a Greenpeace petition calling for an outright plastic bag ban, which was signed by 65,000 New Zealanders and presented to parliament this February.
"It's also the biggest single subject school children write to me about," she added. "Just like climate change, we're taking meaningful steps to reduce plastics pollution so we don't pass this problem to future generations."
Sage said the plastic bag ban is "something New Zealanders really want."
"We have seen communities and councils calling for action," Sage told CNN. "Kiwis care, and I think New Zealanders want to keep our beaches, keep our oceans clean of plastic pollution."
One possible reason Australians resisted the ban was that the government didn't take enough action to implement it across the entire retail sector, as New Zealand aims to do, Sage added.
The new plastic bag phase-out is beginning with the public consultation period, which ends on September 14. The government will then finalize details such as which bags to include and which retailers might be exempted, and plans to implement the policy in roughly six months' time