The Proctor family are determined not to let a pandemic or a tyrannical despot get in the way of their return to New Zealand.
Fenella Nicholas-Proctor, her husband, Richard, and their daughters, Elodie and Giselle, have been away from New Zealand for seven years.
They have tried to come home for nearly two years and are finally booked to return at the end of March.
The first step of New Zealand's border reopening began at 11.59pm on Sunday.
Fully vaccinated New Zealanders can now enter the country from Australia without a stay in managed isolation, though they are required to self-isolate for seven days on arrival.
From Friday, March 4, the border will reopen to Kiwis from the rest of the world.
Yesterday, the Government announced it would remove all self-isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers entering New Zealand from 11:59pm on Wednesday.
The border will fully reopen to visitors from anywhere in the globe in October.
Travellers will still be required to have a negative pre-departure test, and undertake two rapid antigen tests on arrival and on day 5/6.
Anyone who returned a positive result will need to report it and isolate for the same period as a community case.
Nicholas-Proctor told the Rotorua Daily Post they were a little worried about the situation in Ukraine having an impact on London.
"President Putin has thrown out some outrageous threats towards Nato countries.
"The 2020s have been fairly eventful for the world so far but we'll try not to let a pandemic and tyrannical despot get in the way of our homecoming," she said.
"We're so excited to finally be getting home to visit our family," Nicholas-Proctor said.
"We originally had tickets booked for March 2020 and then my husband and I got Covid and the world shut down."
The Proctors have been trying to get a MIQ spot since but never "won the lottery".
"It's been very hard separated from mum and our kids have missed precious time with their kuia and my husband's parents and family," Nicholas said.
"The girls know so much about Rotorua and New Zealand, we can't wait to show off their other home to them and build some amazing memories."
Nicholas-Proctor's mother, Rotorua journalist Jill Nicholas, said naturally she was thrilled her family was coming home.
"But I refuse to become too excited because we've disappointed several times previously. I can only hope Comrade Putin and his lust for war doesn't scupper their trip this time but realistically who knows what lies ahead in this unstable world of ours?"
However, she said she thought closing this country's borders in March 2020 was the right thing to do.
"It kept Kiwis safe and the Covid death toll so low as present case numbers show.
However, I do feel MIQ could have been managed in a much more compassionate way. Depriving New Zealand citizens of the right to be with terminally ill family members and from attending their funerals was cruel and inhumane."
As for what she described as a "lottery system" for a paid place in an MIQ facility, she said only a "cold-hearted bureaucrat" could have considered that fair.
"I know of people who've taken holidays overseas and been able to book an MIQ spot before leaving home. Where was the justice in that?"
The managed isolation system will stay in place for unvaccinated people.
An MIQ spokesperson said MBIE was "planning for the reduction of MIQ capacity".
"MIQ has always operated in a rapidly changing environment, and MBIE is moving to the next phase in its evolution.
"We are currently developing a plan, and we will be working closely with our partners and workforce on this to ensure the reduction of our operations is done in a managed way. We will have more to say in due course."
MIQ facilities have been located in Rotorua since July 2020. Since then 17,045 returnees have stayed in the region.
As of February 24, there were 128 travellers isolating in Rotorua's MIQ hotels.
Rotorua Daily Post asked MIQ authorities if a date had been set for the Sudima, Ibis and Rydges hotels to be reopened to non-MIQ visitors.
The spokesperson's reply did not respond to this question.
Rotorua Daily Post also asked MIQ authorities what plans were in place for New Zealand Defence Force personnel currently staying in Rotorua to support the MIQ facilities.
The spokesperson's reply did not address this query.
"MIQ is expected to have an important ongoing role in the Covid-19 Response with the phased border re-opening," the spokesperson said.
"MIQ workers have been on the front line of our defence against Covid-19 and we are extremely grateful for their ongoing support for returnees and community cases."
Rotorua Economic Development chief executive Andrew Wilson said there had been benefits to having MIQ facilities in Rotorua.
"Whilst the need for MIQ facilities may be coming to an end, it's been good for Rotorua to have these facilities as they've provided an income for the properties, employment, and business for local food and beverage providers.
"The availability of more rooms for visitors will be especially beneficial once self-isolation requirements for visitors come to an end."
According to their websites, the Sudima and Ibis hotels in Rotorua are not open for bookings.
A duty manager at the Rydges Hotel said the hotel was still providing MIQ accommodation.