Bubble’s partial return lets family reunite

The McCallums and friends (from left) Tracy McCallum, Tess Jago, Libby McCallum, Alannah Aylward...
The McCallums and friends (from left) Tracy McCallum, Tess Jago, Libby McCallum, Alannah Aylward and Flynn McCallum, were reunited at Queenstown Airport yesterday. Photo: Matthew McKew
A poignant family holiday was split in half by the transtasman bubble pause, leaving one New Zealander unable to make his grandmother’s memorial.

Melbourne-based New Zealand family the McCallums were unable to get back to Hawera last year for their loved one’s funeral, but had finally managed to book flights to attend a memorial service.

They made it in on one of the last flights before the transtasman bubble pause on June 26, brought about by an outbreak of Covid-19 in Australia.

However, Tracy McCallum said her son, Cameron, was locked out of New Zealand, having booked to fly a day later than the rest of the family.

"We all missed her funeral due to lockdown; we were in Melbourne watching via Zoom, watching her pass away and then the funeral."

The family had decided to make the most of their time back home by heading to Queenstown for a ski holiday, but Cameron, who lands today, will only get three nights out of what was meant to be a two-week break.

The transtasman bubble resumed for visitors from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.

Also on the inbound jet were the Small family, from ACT, who came armed with all their ski gear.

Michael Small said that when the Australian outbreaks happened the family nervously waited at home, hoping there were no cases in their area.

"Luckily there’s still zero cases, so a big thanks to Jacinda [Ardern] and the New Zealand people for letting us in."

Those crossing the Ditch were required to have a negative Covid-19 test result before being allowed to board.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said flights were proving popular this week.

One person very keen to see arrivals was Cardrona Alpine Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky, who said the firm had been dealing with a heap of cancellations since the transtasman bubble was paused.

"We have still lost all of New South Wales and that’s a big part of our market, but we’re just hoping we’ll get those from other parts of Australia because it’s still the second week of their school holidays."

She said the cancellations put the business in a difficult position with a scaled-up workforce, but she felt playing it safe, pausing travel and avoiding a community outbreak in New Zealand was much better for Cardrona.

For the high-end Sofitel Hotel in Queenstown, a cautious approach was adopted by both company and customers, said general manager Jeremy Samuels.

"We didn’t take as much Australian business as we would normally over winter, because I guess we were a little bit nervous about whether the border would stay open."

Nonetheless, the New South Wales school holidays were a huge period for the hotel and there were a large number of cancellations.

"It hurt, it did hurt a lot. There were days in the past two weeks we were as low as 20% occupancy, but it wasn’t unexpected. We’re a very nimble business model now, so we’re not going to be screaming dire straits just yet."

The pause for Western Australia and Northern Territory will be lifted at 11.59pm on Friday.

It will remain in place for New South Wales and Queensland.




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