The countdown is on – less than a month until departure day.
Andrew Vickers and his partner Bridget Crouchley have been holding out for two years to start their Europe OE but the waiting was worth their while, Vickers reckons.
They had their flights booked, visas sorted, festival tickets bought but like so many others their travel plans for 2020 were thwarted when the pandemic hit.
While some of their friends didn't cancel their trips and joined the Europeans in their lockdowns, the couple stayed put in Whangārei to wait for the border to reopen.
"Initially we thought that we could just skip Italy which was hit hard at the start. But then it all unravelled and we pulled the pin," Vickers said.
Getting all the refunds for their tickets was a "nightmare".
"We were gutted because we were eager to go but eventually moved past that. We are content with our decision not to go then."
Instead, the pair put part of their travel budget towards a house deposit for their first home.
Thanks to that, Vickers and his partner are now in a better position to leave for their Europe trip than two years ago, the 28-year-old said.
"Initially we wanted to wait until 2023 but I think this is a good time to leave now. Everyone is moving on; no one wants to hear about Covid anymore."
After a quick stop in London, Vickers and Crouchley will go on a three-month tiki-tour around the Balkans, Turkey and southern Europe to cure the travel bug before heading back to the UK and looking for jobs.
They are planning to stay for two years.
The couple is among 50,000 Kiwis the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment expects to leave New Zealand this year.
About 120,000 young people have missed out on heading off on an OE over the Covid-19 period.
Helloworld Travel Whangārei owner Lynne Bennett says the travel business has been buoyant across the board since the border reopening was announced.
"The famine has turned into a feast," Bennett said. "But it's not the same as before [the pandemic]. There is not the same number of flights but there is a lot of demand. Flights are so full."
She said people are surprised to find that there is little flight capacity at the moment when they want to book a trip.
"The airlines are gradually coming back but it will take a while to go back to pre-Covid times.
"I don't think we're going to see cheap airfares again."
Bennett said more travellers were now booking their trips through travel agents because of increased regulations for international tourism and changing rules.
For anyone planning to go overseas, Bennett recommended checking all travel requirements, seeing if the passport is still valid and booking travel insurance with Covid-19 cover in case people get infected while travelling.
Last-minute travel has also become more difficult because of limited flights and Bennett advises planning ahead.
Is Northland suffering from "brain drain"?
As young people are flocking out into the world again and leaving the domestic workforce, concerns around a sudden lack of skilled labour in the 20-29 age group are growing louder.
In international media the phenomenon is referred to as "brain drain" – but is this currently happening in Northland?
Principal economist for economic consultancy Infometrics, Brad Olsen said it doesn't necessarily apply to New Zealand.
"The number of people leaving New Zealand is down but normally we would have more people coming in," Olsen explained.
It was the lack of workforce migrating into the country that impacts the economy rather than the people leaving.
"There is no brain gain."
Significant migrant arrivals might take longer to increase because of bottlenecks in the system, high housing and living costs, and new visa requirements.
The biggest migration movement into Northland, however, comes from other regions rather than from overseas.
Olsen said while the Northland tourism sector has experienced a buffer, the region's economy had kept strong and steady throughout the pandemic.
Olsen was worried that the current rate of inflation would deter the domestic migration of skilled labour into Tai Tokerau and hence hamper economic growth.
"People are suffering under the cost of living, especially provincial Northland has seen the highest increases. The wages haven't kept pace with it.
"You understand why young people are casting about. They know that other parts of the world offer different opportunities.
"There is a risk that they bypass a regional shift [to Northland] and go straight overseas."