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Almost 2,000 Australians flew to New Zealand to mark the first day of the trans-Tasman travel bubble, but NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has cautioned flights may be paused if the country finds itself plunged back in lockdown.

Key points:

  • Jacinda Ardern said roughly 1,800 Australians flew to New Zealand on 30 flights on Monday
  • While a one-way travel bubble for New Zealand residents has been in operation since October, the reciprocal arrangement has faced setbacks
  • Addressing the delay, Ms Ardern said authorities wanted to ensure they would be able to “minimise disruptions”

Australian travellers are now free to enter the country without mandatory hotel quarantine, and about 1,800 Australian citizens and “a number of Kiwis travelling on Kiwi passports” were quick to take advantage of the border bubble on Monday, Ms Ardern said.

“One of the things that really got me was seeing families where clearly they were introducing new babies for the first time, and that was just beautiful to see,” she told ABC News Breakfast.

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“We know that we had roughly 1,800 Australian citizens cross the border yesterday, and then, of course, a number of Kiwis travelling on Kiwi passports.

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While a one-way travel bubble for New Zealand residents has been in operation since October, the reciprocal arrangement has faced repeated setbacks.

Ms Ardern said authorities wanted to ensure they would be able to “minimise disruptions”, noting that “it was all about making sure that when we did it, we did it right”.

However, she cautioned an outbreak of the virus could result in a pause on travel, if parts of the country were sent into lockdown.

“But if for instance, it is a known situation that’s connected to a border worker … then we wouldn’t anticipate changing up travel arrangements,” she said.

“So we will not be unlike the way that you’ve already seen [Australian] states work.

“We’ll be predictable, so for anyone thinking about travel, think of us as like any other state in Australia — except better!”

Travel bubble begins between Australia and New Zealand

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