There's finally some good news for Kiwis stuck overseas, with managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) bookings reopening with a new system designed to beat the bots.
But if you're stuck in Australia, you'll have to wait, and that's putting pressure on superannuants who are having to pause their pensions because they've been stuck overseas for so long.
Once upon a trans-Tasman bubble, there were hugs and happy tears for Donna and Allan Anderson who got into Queensland thanks to the short-lived quarantine-free arrangement.
"We hadn't seen the children or the grandchildren for 18 months," Donna tells Newshub.
But the bubble turned to toil and trouble and then burst in July, lockding Donna and Allan out, unable to get a scarce precious spot in managed isolation.
"I don't know how they're going to rectify an MIQ system that is antiquated and broken," Donna says.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Wednesday unveiled the rectification, with bookings to unpause from next Monday, now that there is less demand on local COVID-19 cases needing to use the rooms.
"As I signalled previously, the way people apply for these rooms will change," Hipkins told the 1pm press conference.
Here's how it works. There's a virtual lobby which will open at 8am for one hour. You need your passport number to get in and there's unlimited capacity. At 9am, you're randomly given spots in the queue for the 3000 rooms. If you get to the front, you get a room.
"The lobby system is designed to ensure bots can't - that digital bots and algorithms can't access it," Hipkins said.
National's COVID-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop says it's hardly a fix.
"I would describe it as putting a bandaid on the festering, gaping wound that is the broken MIQ system," he told Newshub.
But it's bad news for Kiwis stuck across the Tasman ditch.
"Monday's voucher release will not include red flights from Australia at this time," Hipkins confirmed.
Kiwis like Donna and Allan have now been stuck overseas so long they have had to pause their pensions or face a $15,000 overpayment charge.
"Our pension money is not a gift from the Government," says Donna. "It is money that we have earnt."
Donna and Allan aren't alone. Newshub has spoken to a number of stranded superannuants whose pensions are at risk.
The ministry said in a statement the bubble closing, flight limitations and difficulty getting a spot in MIQ were all reasonably foreseeable.
But that seems unfair given even the Government didn't reasonably foresee the bubble possibly popped until at least Christmas.