Australians arriving in New Zealand on the first day of the quarantine-free travel bubble have been given the royal treatment.
From choirs to welcome messages on the runway, smiles beamed under masks and tears of joy were shed as families were reunited with loved ones at Auckland and Wellington airports on the opening day of the trans-Tasman bubble.
Kiwis have been able to visit Australia without needing to complete a 14-day quarantine for about six months, but today was the first day the eased border restriction was reciprocated for Aussies travelling to NZ.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told RNZ's Morning Report it was "a very significant day" for both countries.
Anyone residing in Australia or New Zealand, including foreign nationals, can travel without quarantining as long as they meet the health, immigration and other standard border requirements in each country.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was a milestone day and a "win-win" for Australians and New Zealanders.
For many people in both nations it's been a long year separated from their loved ones, missing out on milestone celebrations and spending time with family.
Many Australians have also experienced this heartache on a local level with state borders frequently and unpredictably closing during the height of the pandemic.
And there's still no timeline for when international borders will reopen, with Mr Morrison noting coronavirus was raging globally and some nations were recording more than 6000 cases per day.
"Here in Australia, that is not happening. I'm quite certain Australians want to see that continue ... So we can't get ahead of ourselves here," he said.
"Let's not lose what we have achieved because I can tell you if there are further lockdowns, if there are further restrictions that have to be brought in or are brought in by states and territories, because of the introduction of COVID into Australia, then that won't be good for the economy, it won't be good for jobs, it won't be good for people's health."
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