Trans-Tasman travel bubble opens: In photos

By RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission

It was hugs and tears all round today as family and friends reunited on the first day of the trans-Tasman bubble.

A passenger on the first quarantine-free flight into Auckland embraces with a loved one
A passenger on the first quarantine-free flight into Auckland embraces with a loved one Photo: RNZ/ Dan Cook

Thousands of people flew into New Zealand today from Australia on quarantine-free flights.

RNZ photographers and reporters were at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown airports capturing the emotional reunions on camera.

Reporter Tess Brunton and camera operator Simon Rogers – both Australians – were on the first flight leaving Auckland this morning, heading to Sydney.

Passengers leaving Auckland on first day of trans-Tasman bubble
Passengers leaving Auckland on first day of trans-Tasman bubble Photo: RNZ/ Simon Rogers

By 9.30am, 10 flights had departed Auckland for Australia and Brunton and Rogers had almost arrived in Australia. They were welcomed at Sydney Airport by drag queens and Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head blaring over the loud speaker.

Drag queens welcome visitors to Australia on the first day of the trans-Tasman bubble
Drag queens welcome visitors to Australia on the first day of the trans-Tasman bubble Photo: RNZ/ Tess Brunton

Meanwhile, in Auckland, people were starting to gather to welcome loved ones arriving from Australia.

A boy holds a 'welcome home' sign as families wait for people on board the first flight from Sydney to Auckland under the trans-Tasman bubble arrangement.
A boy holds a ‘welcome home’ sign as families wait for people on board the first flight from Sydney to Auckland under the trans-Tasman bubble arrangement. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Air New Zealand estimated roughly three-quarters of passengers crossing the ditch today would be family and friends reuniting after months apart.

Auckland Airport welcome back sign.
Auckland Airport’s ‘welcome back’ sign Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

The first commercial flight to arrive from Australia was from Sydney. It arrived in Auckland about 12.30pm, an hour after it was due.

A passenger gives a thumbs-up as he walks into the arrivals hall after flying from Sydney to Auckland Airport.
A passenger gives a thumbs-up as he walks into the arrivals hall after flying from Sydney to Auckland Airport Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook
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An emotional reunion after the first flight from Australia arrives in Auckland Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook
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So many happy moments Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook
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So many smiles Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Lily was at the airport waiting for her best friend Lilli. She said the two of them cried on the phone when she booked her flight.

Lily awaiting her best friend Lilli. She says the two of them cried on the phone when she booked her flight.
Lily awaiting her best friend Lilli. She says the two of them cried on the phone when she booked her flight. Photo: RNZ/ Kate Gregan

Finally, Lilli arrived.

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Photo: RNZ/ Dan Cook

Wellington Airport had not received any international passengers through its terminal in more than a year – until today.

Workers created a big black ‘welcome whānau’ sign yesterday, just in time for the trans-Tasman bubble flights.

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Wellington Airport’s ‘welcome whānau’ sign Photo: Supplied / Wellington Airport
A passenger is reunited with loved ones after the first quarantine-free Wellington flight from Australia disembarks.
A passenger is reunited with loved ones after the first quarantine-free Wellington flight from Australia disembarks. Photo: Samuel Rillstone
A passenger is reunited with loved ones after the first quarantine-free Wellington flight from Auckland disembarks.
A passenger is reunited with loved ones after the first quarantine-free Wellington flight from Auckland disembarks. Photo: Samuel Rillstone

Christchurch also welcomed its first quarantine-free flight this afternoon.

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A soft touch and kiss as loved ones reunite at Christchurch Airport Photo: RNZ/ Nate McKinnon
Loved ones embrace at Christchurch Airport
Loved ones embrace at Christchurch Airport Photo: RNZ/ Nate McKinnon

Queenstown Airport had a band, face painters and stilt performers ready to welcome people arriving from Australia.

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Stilt performers stand by to welcome visitors to Queenstown. Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

After touching down, the first quarantine-free flight into Queenstown went through the water arch – a salute to welcome the special visitors.

The first quarantine-free flight into Queenstown goes through the water arch - a salute to welcome the special visitors
Photo: RNZ/ Belinda McCammon

Passengers onboard Qantas Flight 121 were welcomed by cheers from the ground crew.

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People prepare to welcome loved ones from across the ditch Photo: RNZ/ Belinda McCammon

About 100 passengers were onboard the flight, the first into the town in 387 days.

An emotional reunion as loved ones greet each other at Queenstown Airport
An emotional reunion as loved ones greet each other at Queenstown Airport Photo: RNZ/ Belinda McCammon

This Canberra couple were on the first flight into Queenstown. They’ve never been to the resort town before, but made the special trip for their honeymoon.

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