One of the quarantined travellers released from Rotorua's Ibis Hotel on Saturday described gaining freedom as an "incredible but surreal" feeling.
Rotorua's Conor Rogers arrived back in New Zealand two weeks ago, after about two-and-a-half years living in the UK. He was one of the returning travellers put on a bus from Auckland to see out their two-week isolation period in Rotorua.
At 4.30pm on Saturday, the 26-year-old became a free man, reconnecting with family before heading to the pub to celebrate.
"I was extremely excited but a little bit sad as well," Rogers said.
"In isolation you kind of make connections, your little iso-family, which turned what could've been a really depressing time into a really cool time. Meeting different people from all walks of life and leaving them was really sad.
"Coming out of isolation was incredible though. In New Zealand it's a strange feeling because I came from the UK where it's still lockdown and still very strict. To be in New Zealand where everyone is roaming around freely was quite exciting.
"They let out 10 people every five minutes, we went to reception and settled any outstanding charges, got a letter to say you're free, showed that to security and literally you walk straight out the doors which was a very surreal feeling."
Rogers said seeing his family for the first time in two-and-a-half years was "bloody brilliant". His plan now is to find a job.
"I'm so proud and lucky to be from New Zealand where I can come home and go through that isolation and be in the country that's Covid-free essentially.
"There was some anxiety. I went to the supermarket as soon as I got out and it was very strange. Just people being close to you, need to get rid of that mindset from wherever you were because New Zealand really is a free country now."
Rogers was able to amuse himself throughout the two-week isolation, although he was not keen to watch any more Netflix for a while now that he was out.
"We were allowed outside for an unlimited amount of time, in the car park where they have all the barriers up so you can't just escape. We could sit out there, talk with different people, obviously keeping the social distancing.
"I can't fault the staff at all, the food was good. I think it's on a three-day rotation but it's good food, decent proportions and if you wanted you could get Countdown deliveries or Uber Eats."
Rogers said he planned to stay in touch with the friends he made during isolation.
"We have a Facebook group where we'll all stay in touch and maybe have a little isolation gathering in a month's time, once everyone is settled in."
A media spokesman for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said at present there were 21 managed isolation facilities in use in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch.
"As we look to accommodate the increasing number of New Zealand citizens and residents returning home, other regions may be used," the spokesman said.
"The location and number of facilities will depend on the demand and we will be working closely with local stakeholders as any new facilities are set up. We are expecting more New Zealanders to return over the coming weeks and months and are planning for their arrival.
"At this point, we cannot speculate on the exact number or the exact location they will isolate in, but we will look to release information as it becomes available. We are working to address capacity due to the increase in arrivals and are looking at a range of options to help accommodate future arrivals."
He said managed isolation was crucial in ensuring we did not "put the good progress we have made in jeopardy".
"We know international arrivals are the most likely potential source of new cases. To achieve this we require New Zealanders to go into managed isolation or quarantine for a minimum of 14 days to prevent Covid-19 getting into our communities.
"These facilities need to meet a strict set of criteria to ensure people staying and working in them are kept safe, and that there's a safe transition of people back into the community after their isolation period."
The spokesman confirmed Government was exploring whether a separate suitable quarantine facility was required and available in Rotorua.
"At present, anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 or becomes symptomatic will be isolated to their room and moved to appropriate quarantine accommodation, i.e. the Jet Park Hotel in Auckland. This transfer is done under strict medical supervision, by trained staff wearing appropriate PPE.
"All remaining guests will be confined to their rooms in the interim while contact tracing is carried out."