Emotions run high as families reunite

Sydney University student Isabella Lau (21) smiles as she embraces her mother, Dunedin...
Sydney University student Isabella Lau (21) smiles as she embraces her mother, Dunedin businesswoman Lee Tan, at Dunedin Airport yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh.
Members of two Dunedin families, long separated by Covid-19 travel restrictions, had emotional reunions yesterday, after the start of two-way quarantine-free travel with Australia.

After her Air New Zealand flight from Wellington landed at Dunedin Airport at 4pm Isabella Lau (21), who is studying at Sydney University, was delightedly embraced by her mother, Dunedin businesswoman Lee Tan.

Miss Lau joked that she had received the royal treatment.

Her transtasman flight to Wellington had earlier been met by her father, Gabriel Lau, who flew with her to Dunedin, where she also met her sister Vivienne (16) again.

"It’s pretty surreal.

"It didn’t feel real, until we came flying into Dunedin, that it was all happening," Miss Lau said.

"It’s pretty awesome."

Last night, in the city, Miss Lau surprised her grandmother, Yong Lau, who today celebrates her 80th birthday.

Ms Tan said the start of the two-way transtasman travel bubble was "a good thing for families and business".

Former professional rugby player Marcus Seuseu, now undertaking corporate team building in Sydney, was also "very, very excited" to reconnect with his Dunedin family after more than a year apart.

Musicians played New Zealand music and Champagne flowed before his flight left Sydney and a "massive haka ... and a massive crowd" welcomed passengers in Wellington.

"It’s the start of the nice part where we can travel freely."

Elsewhere in New Zealand, by 9.30am 10 flights had left Auckland for Australia. The first commercial flight to arrive from Australia landed about 12.30pm.

Wellington Airport workers created a "welcome whanau" sign yesterday, just in time for the first transtasman flights.

Christchurch welcomed its first quarantine-free flight yesterday afternoon.


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