Flights land in New Zealand-Australia travel bubble

New Zealand welcomed the first passengers from Australia on Monday as the travel bubble between the two countries began.

It's a pandemic milestone that allows quarantine-free travel between the countries for the first time in over a year.

Hundreds of passengers like this Australian grandmother touched down in New Zealand, eager to see loved ones.

"Oh it's very emotional, I haven't been back in so long."

Most Australian states have allowed quarantine-free visits from New Zealand since late last year, but until now, New Zealand has enforced isolations for its neighbors, citing concerns over sporadic outbreaks there.

But on Monday, scores of Australians filled international departure terminals and emotional scenes erupted on their arrival, welcomed by a Maori greeting.

A choir sang Dave Dobbyn's “Welcome Home” at the Auckland airport.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters, "The bubble marks a significant step in New Zealand's reconnection with the world and it is one that we should all take a moment to be very, very proud of.”

She added Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison would visit New Zealand in the "not too distant future."

Despite excitement this week, both Morrison and Ardern warned that the travel bubble was under “constant review” depending on swings in COVID-19 outbreaks.

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