'Thank God for this travel bubble' - High emotion as first quarantine-free flight arrives from Rarotonga

For the first time in 10 months, international arrivals at Auckland Airport have been greeted by their loved ones with hugs and kisses.

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It's the first time since April arrivals have been so free. Source: 1 NEWS

The first quarantine-free flight from the Cook Islands arrived today, after taking off from Rarotonga this morning.

It's the first time since April, when the border closed and quarantine restrictions were put in place, that new arrivals have been able to greet so freely with physical contact.

There were plenty of hugs and kisses to be shared as people reunited with their families after arriving on the Air New Zealand flight. 

One family was reunited with their beloved children for the first time in 10 months, one boy crying out "Daddy!" as he saw his father across the gate.

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"It's such a relief really, such a relief. It's been a year in the making," their father told 1 NEWS. 

"Thank God for this travel bubble - bubble burst. I'm just stoked."

Their mum added: "It's time to go home."

Another new arrival said he was "very happy" to be heading home to Māngere, Auckland.

The one-way travel bubble means arrivals from the Cook Islands don't have the quarantine when travelling to New Zealand.

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The first quarantine-free travellers to arrive from overseas in nearly 10 months won’t mingle with those from other countries, general manager Scott Tasker told Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

According to official records from the World Health Organization, the Cook Islands have have not had any cases of Covid-19, and no deaths.

Work is still underway to make the travel bubble work both ways and to allow Kiwis to head to the Cook Islands, which would require testing facilities and contact tracing to be set up in the Cook Islands.