Aussies are being welcomed with open arms as Kiwis look to bask in their sunshine. That is the word from Bay travel agents who say it is the first step in rebuilding an industry hammered by Covid-19.
House of Travel Rotorua director Pam Turner said her team had experienced a "frenzy" of transtasman booking activity.
"The bubble has certainly created a lot of conversation about travel to all parts of Australia. We are very excited."
The bubble was a significant first step in rebuilding the travel industry and booking activity immediately following the Government announcement was strong.
"Travel agents know better than most how quickly plans can change and have spent the last year helping customers to get home, change, rebook or unravel their travel plans."
Turner said she would like to see a cruise ship bubble open even if it just started with New Zealand cruising and then Australia - which people had booked.
"We even have bookings on cruises for 2022 around Europe."
But she strongly recommended travel insurance.
"Historically we have seen 37 per cent of claims are made prior to travel. Travellers really need to take the time to understand exactly what is and isn't covered as each policy is different.
"Most insurers will not cover losses tied to a government-imposed lockdown, border restriction or a change in alert level."
House of Travel Tauranga owner Shane Kennedy said it had seen an immediate interest in travel to Australia and in particular Queensland.
Kiwis were thinking about sunny winter holidays again, he said.
"The first wave of travellers appear to be families, people of all ages are flying but in particular grandparents who are desperate to reconnect after a year of isolation. It feels wonderful being part of the restoration of essential economic services, to play our role in linking families and businesses together is very satisfying."
Kennedy said the South Pacific Islands would connect next and travellers would help restore economic recovery into those communities devastated by border closures.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean had been successfully sailing weekly cruises from Singapore for six months.
Joanna Corbett, from Galaxy Travel in Rotorua, said it had inquiries and bookings for Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria.
They were also helping travellers coming this way from Australia.
"There is so much documentation, and declarations to complete - many with a requirement of 72 hours prior to departure and these change constantly."
Kiwis stranded overseas were still desperate to get home from Tunisia, Canada, Thailand, Venezuela, Germany and Scotland.
"The flights we put in place to secure the quarantine spot then get cancelled and we have to rejig the whole thing again and again."
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said Aussie travellers would deliver wide-ranging economic benefits to Tauranga's activity and tour operators, accommodation providers, retail and hospitality businesses.
"We have heard from several tourism operators that they're excited and preparing for the transtasman bubble."
According to data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment Australians made up the largest chunk of the international visitor market. That contributed an estimated $70 million to the Coastal Bay of Plenty's tourism economy prior to Covid-19 in the year ending January 2020.
Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the airline's transtasman routes were firing on all cylinders.
Yesterday more than 5000 passengers were booked to reunite with whānau and friends.
Air NZ data shows of the 5200 passengers booked, 3100 were travelling to New Zealand with 30 flights operating across the Tasman.
"This will build to more than 300 flights a week as we reach the peak New Zealand and Australia school holidays in July.''
Henry Cibulka has not seen his wife, Tereza, for 14 months. Today at 6am he will get the chance to hug her again as she flies in from Australia.
The construction engineer who lives in Pāpāmoa and hales from the Czech Republic said he had tried to pass the time by staying busy.
"We have been in touch every day via Messenger or Facetime and I've kept busy so I don't have to think about the situation."
The 33-year-old said he was happy and excited and planned to be at the airport early.
Meanwhile, it has been 20 long months since Mount Maunganui's Isla Motion, 3, and brother Max, 1, have seen their beloved "Ouie".
Their family on mum Tiffany's side live in Australia, including their doting grandmother - or "Ouie", Sue Butler.
Before Covid-19, there were regular visits between New Zealand and Australia. The last one was in September 2019, when Butler flew over for Max's birth. Since then, they have had to make do with video chats.
When the travel bubble was announced, Butler wasted no time booking her flights to come back next month.
Tiffany said her family couldn't wait to see Ouie and the separation had been hard.
Video chats were a poor substitute for in-person visits when the kids were growing so fast and changing so much.
"Max has really only ever known Ouie through a laptop screen. He's going to be so excited when she walks in his door."
New border exemptions
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement that hundreds more families who were separated by the border closure would be reunited under new border exemptions.
But he said there would still be "thousands" to whom the exemptions would not apply.
The new rules apply to the family of critical health workers with families still overseas, as well as a "small number" of other highly skilled workers.
A new exemption is also being created for the families of temporary visa holders, who had a visa to come to New Zealand but had not arrived before the border closed last year.
To be eligible for these new rules, the family member currently in New Zealand must have more than 12 months remaining on their visa.
They can begin applying for the exemption from April 30.
"We absolutely acknowledge that there will be still some people having to live in difficult situations," Faafoi said, adding that "we have to draw the line somewhere".