Thousands of passengers get airborne as Aucklanders reunite with friends and family after border opening

Never has the option of a cookie or cassava crisps been so hotly anticipated.

As Auckland's borders opened to the rest of Aotearoa this morning, thousands of Kiwis packed flights into and out of the city after over 100 days of being cut off from the rest of the country.

The borders reopened under the COVID-19 traffic light system as the country's vaccination rates have risen to safer levels.

Air New Zealand had 7500 passengers booked to fly out of Auckland today, while 4500 people were booked to fly into the city.

The airline said in total almost 21,000 passengers were booked to fly domestically across its network on Wednesday.

More than 4,000 customers were booked on rival airline, Jetstar.

The Qantas owned airline will initially fly 85 return flights per week to four destinations from Auckland (Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Queenstown) with the airline looks to add more services as demand rebounds.

A spokesperson for Christchurch Airport said there were 16 flights operating to and from Auckland today with the equivalent of 6380 seats between the two cities.

Air NZ Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says Auckland Airport will be a hive of activity after nearly four months of no domestic travel for those in the city.

"Aucklanders have been putting in the mahi to help keep the rest of the country safe, so we're thrilled to be helping reunite them with friends and whānau from tomorrow onwards," Geraghty said. 

The most popular destination for people leaving Auckland today is the capital with 1800 passengers booked to fly to Wellington. That's closely followed by Christchurch with 1700.

Queenstown will welcome more than 1200 travellers from Auckland today as well.

Airlines have been reminding passengers that anyone over the age of 12 will need to be able to show a vaccination passport or proof of a negative test within 72 hours of flying.

"I know our crew are really looking forward to having the domestic network back firing on all cylinders, with new snacks back on board too! But don't panic, the famous Cookie Time cookie remains," Geraghty said.