The Trans-Tasman travel bubble is now open for business.
Australia and New Zealand have opened their borders to each other, setting up the Trans-Tasman travel bubble for travellers to fly between the two nations without needing to quarantine on either side.
It's a big step in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as thousands of passengers board flights throughout this week to cross the Tasman Sea, some making family visits that have been many months in the making.
Even Australian singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes and his wife Jane were destined for New Zealand on Monday.
Like art imitating life, the last plane out of Sydney was almost gone when he took to Facebook on Monday morning.
"We're on the first flight out to New Zealand to see our beautiful EJ, who we haven't seen for 18 months. Feels great!" he wrote.
Air New Zealand said Monday would be a "mammoth day" with more than 5000 people expected to travel.
Most Australian states have been open to New Zealand travellers for months now, but Monday, April 19, marked the first time New Zealand has opened its borders to those in Australia.
On Monday Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the government remained "in discussions" with Singapore as it looked to create more quarantine-free travel bubbles with other low COVID-risk countries.
A timeframe had not yet been given for other travel bubbles, with Mr McCormack insisting discussions with the Singaporean government were just "initial talks".
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce described the travel bubble as an "amazing day", saying he hoped New Zealand would be the first of many destinations to resume with others including the Pacific Islands, Fiji, Taiwan, Korea and Japan.
"We know this needs to go through National Cabinet and National Cabinet are looking at how to open up the border safely," he said.
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Like art imitating life, the last plane out of Sydney was almost gone when Jimmy Barnes took to Facebook on Monday morning. 'We're on the first flight out to New Zealand to see our beautiful EJ, who we haven't seen for 18 months. Feels great!'
Having known only a border bubble for much of last year into early this year, the idea of a new travel bubble will be appealing for many of us.
Here's what we'll need to do to get ship-shape for jet-setting.
- Make sure your passport is current; mine lapsed last month. It would be bad to finally get the chance to travel only to find your passport expired mid-pandemic. There's nothing like the joyful administrative task of renewing your passport but it will all be worth it in the end!
- Book your meals before your go. Gone are the days when you can rock up to a restaurant in any old town or city in any old country. Given that all of my holidays are based around food, I'd book the restaurants before the flights. That could be just me!! Is it just a coincidence that all of Australia's likely travel bubble partners are great foodie destinations. New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Taiwan have some of the best dining on the planet. Bon appetit!
- Carry face masks with you. You're in a confined space in a plane, there is no way around it. Save yourself and others by wearing a face mask.
- Wash your hands x 1000 daily. Surely, we're already doing this, even if we're not turning off the tap with the paper towel! How can we get all of our work done at the office and turn off the tap with paper towels?!
- Buy a new pair of shoes. If you're still working from home, it's possible you've got through the entire pandemic in slippers as your only footwear. Your feet will hate you for it but buy new shoes. Wearing no shoes is only acceptable in New Zealand thanks to film director Sir Peter Jackson.
- Look up what's permitted in your cabin luggage. Remember fancy jam is not allowed and I learnt that the hard way.
Safe travels everyone!