• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Wednesday’s flight was the first since Melbourne’s Covid-19 community outbreak, part of a special flight schedule designed to return stranded Kiwis home.

Jun 9, 2021

Kiwi travellers were relieved and excited to see loved ones as they arrived at Auckland airport on Wednesday evening, following their long-awaited return flight from Melbourne.
It was the first flight home since Melbournes recent Covid-19 community outbreak, part of a special flight schedule designed to enable stranded Kiwis to return home, despite the current travel bubble pause.
The arrival was delayed about 40 minutes, initially scheduled to land at 5:30pm but instead landing at 6:08pm. That did little to dampen the spirits of returning travellers, however.
Relieved Kiwi travellers arrive at Auckland airport on Wednesday evening,
Emma McLean, who had flown across the ditch to reunite with family, said the atmosphere on the flight back home was one of relief, for a lot of people.
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There was a bit of a clap at the end when we landed, everyone was just glad to be home.
McLeans planned week-and-a-half trip ended up taking more than twice that amount of time, due to the lockdown.
While she had mixed emotions when she first was told she would have to stay, it was a blessing as she was able to spend more time with her mum and sister whom she hadnt seen for 18 months.
For traveller Steve Harvey it was unbelievably good to be back on home soil as things had been a bit disconcerting in Melbourne.
Harvey, who had been travelling for business, said his lockdown period had been nice, in a way as he spent the time playing computer games and watching movies.
With a two-hour drive ahead of him to get home to Whangrei, Harvey said he was just looking forward to going straight to bed and getting some sleep.
For others, the return meant eventually being able to reunite with family.
Its very good to be back considering Ive got three kids who have been missing their dad, said traveller Hamish Whistler.
He was looking forward to taking the following day off work, spending time with his wife and children at home in Hamilton.
Its been a long wait.
Some travellers trip over the ditch had to be extended by weeks.
Whistler said the lockdown hadnt been too tough to endure as he was lucky to have work colleagues at the same hotel who were on hand to message and keep each other in good spirits.
The experience had made him wary of travelling again, however.
He said he would wait for the vaccine roll-out to be a bit more advanced in both countries before he would get back on a plane again.
Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Melbourne is currently in the middle of a lockdown, which has led to an extended bubble pause with Victoria.
Last week, the Government extended the bubble pause on Victoria by six days, simultaneously setting the timeline for Kiwis stranded in Melbourne to come home.
The flight schedule combines a number of green zone flights that would ensure Kiwis stuck in Melbourne can fly home without self-isolating.
Travellers on the flight needed to have returned a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours, and sign a declaration saying they had not been in a place of interest.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said people who are making a deliberate attempt to get through the border will be picked up.
It is up to us to make sure we are putting in place different mechanisms to make sure that we are stopping people, she said.
There are multiple points in the system where someone can get caught, she said.
To anyone considering breaching the rules, Ardern said there are consequences.