A pregnant journalist who was recently granted a MIQ spot after days of global media coverage says today is a day of "celebration" following the Government's announcement to reopen the borders.
Charlotte Bellis who is based in Kabul was this week granted an emergency spot to arrive in New Zealand in March to give birth to her first daughter, with her Belgian partner to follow.
Their applications were initially rejected, however, despite being in Afghanistan and having poor access to maternity care.
After several days of global media coverage the application was approved, albeit under a new category.
Bellis stayed up till 3am in the morning to watch Ardern's announcement and said her partner set an alarm to watch, despite being away.
"It's been a fight for so many to get to this day and I'm just so relieved Kiwis everywhere are coming home," she told the Herald.
Bellis said she was glad the Government took a step back to look at the situation.
"I'm glad the Government stepped back and could see it just didn't make sense any more, and that Kiwis abroad were just paying too heavy a price," she said.
"This is a day of celebration."
On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden said the country's international border will reopen in five stages from February 28. MIQ will be removed for most travellers, replaced by self-isolation and Covid-19 tests on arrival.
Fully vaccinated Kiwis and other currently eligible travellers from Australia will be able to travel to New Zealand from 11.59pm on Sunday, February 27, and instead of going into MIQ, will be able to self-isolate.
In step two, two weeks later, at 11.59pm on Sunday, March 13, fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other currently eligible travellers from the rest of the world will also be able to travel into New Zealand without going through MIQ.
Ardern said it was "easy to hear the word MIQ and immediately associate it with heartache".
"There is no question, that for New Zealand, it has been one of the hardest parts of the pandemic.
"But the reason that it is right up there as one of the toughest things we have experienced, is in part because large-scale loss of life is not.
"The anguish of MIQ has been real, and heartbreaking. But the choice to use it, undeniably saved lives."