Duncan Garner: Trans-Tasman bubble represents one of the COVID-19 pandemic's most significant developments

OPINION: The trans-Tasman bubble is officially underway.

Quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia. 

Sometimes, you don't know what you have until it's taken away - and the last 404 days have been desperately tough for some and life-changing for others.

Expect family reunions to dominate the early trips.  

Bookings for the first few weeks are strong - 5200 people flying on Monday, with more coming from Australia than the other direction.

There'll be 30 odd flights on Monday and Air New Zealand expects it'll fly up to 300 flights per week during the school holiday peaks in July.

Queenstown gets its first flight in at 2:30pm. They need many more - tourism will return with those flights. 

Mayor Jim Boult - you've been a soldier for your town.

Duncan Garner.
Duncan Garner. Photo credit: The AM Show/Getty

So, 404 days into this pandemic and this represents one of the biggest and most significant developments.

The COVID-19 vaccine was the biggest but I think this bubble is the second, and only full vaccination would be on the same level.

Officials from both sides of the Tasman have hopefully left not a stone unturned in the design of this bubble - and the world is watching to see how successful it is. Airlines may use it as the blueprint back to global air travel.

Certainly, I've got the impression Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern always wanted Australia before anyone else - because Australia matters. Its economy takes in one in every four of New Zealand's exports and we have family members across both countries.

Now, you can step off the plane and hug them - almost immediately.

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.