Relaxing at Muri Beach Club Hotel in Rarotonga might have cost a small fortune, but it was well worth it for Kāpiti couple Max and Jackie Staples.
The well-travelled couple, who are used to holidays spent on cruises around the world, made it on to the first flight out to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands last month, booking through Your Travel.
"We were on the first flight to land in Rarotonga since Covid-19 and were there to see the vaccines unloaded off the plane," Max said.
The Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council president Liana Scott, who is general manager of Muri Beach Club Hotel where the couple stayed, said while large hotels only had two or three rooms booked off the first flight, the island is now filling up.
"Most properties are now sitting on 40-60 capacity which is pretty incredible considering it has only been four weeks of an open border.
"There is a really positive buzz on the island and the benefits are felt all the way down the channel to the growers and fishermen who are now providing produce to restaurants and hotels."
Liana said with an additional four flights added by Air New Zealand during high season, the outlook for tourism operators is looking good.
"The next few months are normally our high season due to the New Zealand winter, so I anticipate we will soon run out of space on the island."
Having visited the island several times himself more than 20 years ago, this was the first time Max had been with his wife, Jackie.
"We had been looking at holidays and didn't think we would be going anywhere because of Covid-19 but when the travel bubble opened we thought it was a good chance to get away.
"We wanted to get over there quickly just in case something happened and it closed again.
"So we booked and picked the Muri Beach Club Hotel because there was a package deal through Your Travel which included 14 nights, breakfast and a three course dinner each night.
"When we turned up there was only one other person, then after a few more days another couple turned up and by the time we left there were about five couples there."
While the hotel has around 30 rooms, the couple relished a chance to relax and be waited upon.
"We really enjoyed it.
"We enjoy being around other people, but because we were by ourselves we had fantastic service.
"They were just offering us so much food, after a few days we had to say we couldn't eat anymore."
With heavy rain a week before they arrived there was concern the place would be a mess with flooding.
However, by the time they arrived with the first New Zealand travellers the rain had cleared and they had the tropical weather they were wanting.
"We had a couple of days with a bit of cloud but the rest of the time it was sunshine and 28 degrees.
"We kind of fluked it and got really good weather."
Staying right on the beachfront, Max and Jackie only had to open the sliding doors of their room to step straight out onto the sand and into the water.
Enjoying island life included cocktail hour which was not just cheap cocktails, but free cocktails for the whole hour.
Max also went on a fishing trip which was while rough turned out to be a bucket list moment.
"We went out about 5km and it was rough, I couldn't believe how rough it was.
"Me and another guy hooked marlins at about the same time.
"The bloke beside me got his in and it was about 70kg.
"And the one I had we estimated was about 120kg, but I wasn't able to get it in.
"It was bucket list thing to do even though I didn't get my one in."
With tourists back just in time for high season and discretionary spending higher than expected the feeling on the island is positive.
"Given that we are getting our second dose of the vaccine this week, the feeling on the island with this extra layer of protection has given us more sense of comfort," Liana said.