A grateful German father has raised funds to thank Kiwis who helped get his teenage daughter - and thousands of European visitors - home when the borders were being shut down.
As part of a massive international repatriation, 26 planes and some 10,000 passengers from 23 European countries were carried back to Germany in two weeks.
Kai Kniepkamp's 18-year-old daughter Paulina was in New Zealand when the scale of the crisis became clear and the alert level 4 lockdown was looming in late March. She had been in the country for a month and had to desperately scramble to make flights back to Germany.
The repatriation mission from Auckland involved airlines and aircraft not seen here before: Lufthansa, Swiss, Condor and Austrian Airlines. Air New Zealand made a return to Frankfurt with one-off flights via Vancouver.
This week, those involved in the repatriation effort - the German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, airport ground staff in Auckland and Christchurch and police - were thanked with afternoon tea functions in both cities.
Kniepkamp raised about $5000 in Germany through social media campaigns. He explained why, telling of his relief at seeing his daughter when she arrived home in Berlin after the marathon flight from Auckland.
''As my wife and I could take Paulina in our arms again, we were all just overwhelmed by the love and happiness not only to have our family back together, but also by our thankfulness to those who helped to make it all possible with their extraordinary voluntary help.''
He said while some people may have taken it for granted, as something that an embassy and others were supposed to do, the repatriation effort was clearly more than that.
''I thought we should create an opportunity to thank those heroes of the German embassy, the chamber of commerce, and all those who took part in the organisation of the repatriation flights at the airports in Auckland and Christchurch.''
German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce chief executive Monique Surges said the special flights took "events organisational skills" to a whole new level.
Ten chamber and embassy staff were based in Christchurch and Auckland and the remaining embassy staff in Wellington dealt with the passenger lists from Berlin and emailing the stranded German visitors.
''It was quite a feat of liaison back and forth with Berlin. To be honest, we were all like zombies by day five.''
The Lufthansa flights were processed manually, with handwritten boarding passes and luggage labels.
The ground staff at Auckland and Christchurch airport were ''amazing'' and came up with some solutions to streamline the check-in process, she said.
The experience was an ''emotional rollercoaster," Surges said.
Many of the passengers were frantic, scared and nervous about catching Covid-19.
There was also confusion and frustration.
''Germans always follow the rules and when the Prime Minister says don't travel, they didn't, but we needed them to get to the airport as quickly as they could.''
Kniepkamp said that in early March his daughter and travelling companions found some Airbnbs starting to refuse foreign guests, so she headed to a cousin's home in Nelson.
When the repatriation flights finally started in early April, first for people who stayed around the Auckland and Christchurch airport area, she tried to make plans for the trip from Wellington to Auckland.
''Flights were cancelled - trains seem to be more a German thing - so the only chance to get there was an eight-hour drive by car,'' he said.
She was able to make one of the last of the repatriation flights on April 12. For the final A380 flight, the Sky Tower was lit up in the colours of the German flag, in a chamber-organised thank you gesture to New Zealand for helping get the visitors home.
Kniepkamp said he hoped the functions would allow for reflecting on what everyone experienced.
''I truly think this was and is the strongest message from Covid: we're in this together and only together we'll get out of this. Especially now, as Germany and entire Europe are heading into darker times again,'' he said.
''We look at New Zealand - its success with consequent handling of the pandemic - and should learn from that.''