‘Lots of happy tears’: joy as New Zealand opens border after two years of isolation

Tears, hugs, laughter and the shouts of children echoed through the arrivals halls of New Zealand, as the country opened its borders and lifted isolation requirements.

“I’ve been waiting six months for this moment,” says Steve, 72, who was waiting for his fiancee, Karin, to arrive from Australia. “I’m over the moon,” he said. “I feel a bit shaky.”

Steve said he had cleaned their motor-home, complete with karaoke machine, from top to bottom, in preparation for taking a trip around New Zealand for the pair to see their friends and family. “We’ve been talking on the phone for five hours a day to keep our sanity that way,” says Steve. “It’s been very hard.”

For almost two years, New Zealand’s international airports’ arrival terminals have been shuttered ghost towns. Apart from a short-lived travel bubble with Australia, the country’s borders have been closed, with those lucky enough to secure entry into the country whisked to government-managed isolation and quarantine facilities for a costly two weeks secluded in a hotel room.


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