Passengers on board the Air New Zealand flight from Wuhan, China, underwent a gruelling seven-hour-long check-in process overnight before embarking at 6.45am today on the half-day journey.
The rescue flight NZ1942 is expected to land in Auckland about 6.30pm, after days of planning.
There are 198 people on board the Boeing 777-200, including 190 passengers who've spent time in Wuhan. The others were five already onboard the aircraft when it arrived in Wuhan, as well as three Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff who had been in Wuhan to facilitate the departure.
Of the affected passengers, 54 are New Zealand citizens and 44 are New Zealand permanent residents on Chinese passports, 23 are Australian citizens and 12 Australian permanent residents on Chinese passports, then there are eight British nationals, 17 people from 17 Timor Leste, 17 from Papua New Guinea, five from Samoa, four from Tonga, two from Fiji, one from Kiribati, one from Federated States of Micronesia, one from Uzbek and one Dutch national.
After they arrive in Auckland, the 35 Australian passengers will be directly transferred to a flight to Australia.
Everyone else staying in New Zealand will be quarantined at a military base in Whangaparāoa, in northern Auckland.
They'll have to isolate themselves at home for a further two weeks in a bid to control the spread of the coronavirus.