Families are reunited as travelers arrive on the first flight from Sydney in Wellington on Monday after Australia and New Zealand opened a trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble.

Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images


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Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images


Families are reunited as travelers arrive on the first flight from Sydney in Wellington on Monday after Australia and New Zealand opened a trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel bubble.

Marty Melville/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, Australia and New Zealand launched their long-anticipated travel bubble that will allow residents of each country to visit the other without having to quarantine upon arrival.

Emotional videos capturing long-awaited reunions in arrival halls in various airports across Australia and New Zealand have been circulating online since the first passengers touched down. Thousands are reported to have made the journey across the Tasman Sea in the bubble’s opening first day.

Traveler Mark Carrington told Australia’s Seven Network that he felt “amazing” after landing in Sydney.

“It’s been nearly two years and I haven’t seen my partner for that period of time. So it’s been very tough,” he said.

Before her flight to New Zealand, traveler Denise O’Donoughue told AFP that she felt like the world was returning to some sort of normal.

“What normal’s going to be from now on I don’t know, but I’m just really, really excited about today,” she said.

Until now, New Zealand had required travelers from Australia to quarantine upon arrival. Most Australian states had dropped that requirement late last year.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters Monday that the Australia-New Zealand bubble is a significant step in getting New Zealand back to normal.

“What the bubble will mean for each of us personally is important, but what’s also important is what it will mean for the economy and our recovery,” she said. “According to Tourism New Zealand Forecasting, welcoming Australians back could mean a billion-dollar boost.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also told reporters that the bubble is a win-win for both countries, who depend greatly on each other for tourism. New Zealand government data shows that about 1.5 million Australians visited New Zealand in 2019, making up about 40% of all visitors and spending nearly the equivalent of $2 billion USD. And about 1.3 million New Zealanders visited Australia that year, accounting for about 15% of all visitors to Australia.

This arrangement has been months in the making after both New Zealand and Australia shut down their borders to most travelers at the start of the pandemic last spring. Compared with many other countries, the two have avoided the worst of the virus.

Australia has logged 29,543 cases and 910 deaths, while New Zealand only 2,596 cases and 26 deaths from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

However, the vaccine rollout in both countries has been slow to get started.

The new travel bubble is not without rules. For example, residents cannot have traveled outside of their country within 14 days and

By NICK PERRY, Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As the passengers walked a little dazed through the airport gates, they were embraced one after another by family members who rushed forward and dissolved into tears.

Elation and relief marked the opening of a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand at the Wellington Airport on Monday. Children held balloons and banners and Indigenous Maori performers welcomed the arrivals home with songs.

The start of quarantine-free travel was a long time coming for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators. It marked the first, tentative steps toward what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world.

Danny Mather was overcome to see his pregnant daughter Kristy and his baby grandson for the first time in 15 months after they flew in from Sydney for a visit on the first flight after the bubble opened. What did they say to each other?

“Not a thing,” he said, laughing. They just hugged. “It’s just so good to see her and I’m just so happy to have her back.”

Kristy Mather said it was overwhelming to be reunited with her family and it was amazing the bubble had opened.

“I wished it had happened earlier, but it’s happened now,” she said. “I just wanted to get on that first flight because you never know, it may go south. Let’s hope it sticks around.”

Danny Mather said he wanted to keep New Zealand safe from the virus but also thought the time was right to open the bubble.

The idea of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand had been talked about for months but faced setbacks because of several small virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.

To mark the occasion, Wellington Airport painted an enormous welcome sign near its main runway and Air New Zealand ordered some 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine, offering a complimentary glass to adult passengers.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the carrier had previously been running just two or three flights a day between the two countries but that jumped to 30 flights on Monday carrying 5,200 passengers.

She said the day marked a turning point and people were excited.

“You can feel it at the airport and see it on people’s faces,” she said.

The leaders of both countries welcomed the bubble, saying it was a world-leading arrangement because it aimed to both open borders and keep the virus from spreading.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe,” Australian Prime Scott Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming the new arrivals.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.

Travelers who lined up at

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — As the passengers walked a little dazed through the airport gates, they were embraced one after another by family members who rushed forward and dissolved into tears.

Elation and relief marked the opening of a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand at the Wellington Airport on Monday. Children held balloons and banners and Indigenous Maori performers welcomed the arrivals home with songs.

The start of quarantine-free travel was a long time coming for families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators. It marked the first, tentative steps toward what both countries hope will become a gradual reopening to the rest of the world.

Danny Mather was overcome to see his pregnant daughter Kristy and his baby grandson for the first time in 15 months after they flew in from Sydney for a visit on the first flight after the bubble opened. What did they say to each other?

“Not a thing,” he said, laughing. They just hugged. “It’s just so good to see her and I’m just so happy to have her back.”

Kristy Mather said it was overwhelming to be reunited with her family and it was amazing the bubble had opened.

“I wished it had happened earlier, but it’s happened now,” she said. “I just wanted to get on that first flight because you never know, it may go south. Let’s hope it sticks around.”

Danny Mather said he wanted to keep New Zealand safe from the virus but also thought the time was right to open the bubble.

The idea of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand had been talked about for months but faced setbacks because of several small virus outbreaks in both countries, which were eventually stamped out.

To mark the occasion, Wellington Airport painted an enormous welcome sign near its main runway and Air New Zealand ordered some 24,000 bottles of sparkling wine, offering a complimentary glass to adult passengers.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui said the carrier had previously been running just two or three flights a day between the two countries but that jumped to 30 flights on Monday carrying 5,200 passengers.

She said the day marked a turning point and people were excited.

“You can feel it at the airport and see it on people’s faces,” she said.

The leaders of both countries welcomed the bubble, saying it was a world-leading arrangement because it aimed to both open borders and keep the virus from spreading.

“Today’s milestone is a win-win for Australians and New Zealanders, boosting our economies while keeping our people safe,” Australian Prime Scott Morrison said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her country was welcoming the new arrivals.

“The bubble marks a significant step in both countries’ reconnection with the world and it’s one we should all take a moment to be very proud of,” she said.

Travelers who lined up at Sydney and Melbourne airports early