Auckland Airport was filled with relieved homecomers as the first quarantine-free flight arrived from Melbourne in over two weeks.
Flights were suspended on May 25, initially for 72 hours, and then extended.
Though travel from Victoria is technically still paused, a limited number of commercial "green" flights were offered, subject to conditions.
Flights were restricted to New Zealand citizens and residents, Australians who live in New Zealand, and those on temporary visas. Australians resident in that country were not able to travel to New Zealand on the flights.
Passengers had to show a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of boarding.
The first flight arrived just after 6pm on Wednesday.
"Very excited to be on the correct side of the ditch," one passenger, Anne, said. "On the night before we were due to leave, we got a bonus 14 days over there."
For her, the time stuck there was salt in the wound of the last year.
"We're in luxury accommodation in the tourism industry, which depended 99 percent on international travellers," she said.
"We were just getting back up and going with Australians ... and we were stuck in Australia ... and had to close our lodge, so just another two weeks of decimating our business."
"A four-day business trip turned into an 18-day lockdown adventure," Tracy said. "A little bit lonely with not really anyone to spend time with."
But, serendipitously, it doubled as a writer's retreat.
"I'm in the process of writing a book so I was able to spend lots and lots of time doing that, which was fantastic.
"Be careful what you wish for. I'd said to my family 'all I need to do is go away on my own in a cabin, completely isolated' and look what happens. I end up with two weeks in an apartment. I actually got quite a bit done, which was great."
Chris, who lives in Melbourne, said Melburnians were well-practised, so this lockdown wasn't too strenuous.
But he said pre-departure testing had caused problems for one person.
"There was somebody checking in next to me who got a COVID test from one of the free stations. [They] got a text message to say they weren't positive, but they needed [official] documentation to back that up, not just a text message, so I don't think they were able to fly."
With just one local case recorded on Wednesday, the Victoria government will ease the hard lockdown from Friday.
The New Zealand Government's halt to quarantine-free travel from Victoria is set to end at 8pm on Thursday.
The Government will decide whether the pause continues or the travel bubble with Australia opens back up in full.