There were tears of joy, long embraces and sighs of relief, as thousands of New Zealanders boarded flights or hit the road on Wednesday, in what was, for many, the first reunion with friends and family in four months.
The wider Auckland region was closed off in August as the city tried to contain an outbreak of Covid-19. In November, the government announced it would relax the border from 15 December to allow people to travel, due to the eligible population nearing the 90% double-vaccination rate.
At midnight, the road checkpoints at the edge of the city were removed, and the queues of cars, some with boats and trailers attached, were given the green light to move. On Wednesday morning, airport terminals around the country buzzed with Aucklanders eager to leave and reunite with loved ones.
About 12,000 people were expected to fly out of Auckland on Wednesday. It will mark the beginning of a 4000% increase in movement through the airport over the summer period, the airport said.
Read the full story from our reporter in New Zealand, Eva Corlett, here.