As soon as Victoria natives Nicole Ruehmer and Chasca Russell heard about the transtasman bubble opening, they rushed home to book plane tickets.
The pair are now in New Zealand on a quarantine-free 10-day holiday following the opening of the borders between Australia and New Zealand, after the borders were closed for more than a year.
"We were in Gold Coast on a roadtrip," 20-year-old Russell said.
"We thought, let's just get home straight away."
"We were supposed to take three weeks to drive back down," the aged-care worker said.
"But we did it in two or three days. We came over as soon as the bubble opened."
The two friends were on one of the first flights to land at Auckland Airport on Monday. Their arrival from across the Tasman is one they will never forget.
"It was really sweet," 21-year-old Ruehmer said.
"There were so many families, such a cool experience.
"It felt like we were a part of something big."
The Aussie visitors said their hosts in Rotorua gave them an "especially" warm welcome.
Late on Tuesday Ruehmer and Russell drove into All Seasons Holiday Park.
There Kevin and Tracie Thornborough greeted their first Aussie visitors with a welcoming surprise.
"They gave us a little goody bag," Ruehmer said. "They were so excited."
The surprise was a small chilly bag filled with souvenirs, a water bottle, hand sanitiser, and a toy kiwi bird.
"It was all Kev's idea," Tracie Thornborough said. "He put a lot of thought into what went into the package.
"We wanted it to be something they could use and take home with them."
"We didn't think we'd only be two days into the bubble before we saw an Aussie tourist," said Kevin Thornborough.
"We're really rapt to have someone really quickly."
"We were a bit worried [about] how people would react," Russell said.
"We didn't want people to think we were bringing Covid over or anything like that.
"But as soon as we were here there was no stress. Everywhere we've been they've been so welcoming to us. "
Ruehmer's last visit to New Zealand was in 2019. This is Russell's first time in the country.
"It's beautiful here," Ruehmer said.
"We've always wanted to come over and travel together. It just worked out perfectly."
For both visitors, this 10-day roadie is the adventure they've been waiting for. They spent almost half of last year in lockdown.
"We couldn't leave the house," Ruehmer said. "It was hard. It was very, very hard," Russell said.
"We're definitely not taking this year for granted."
The pair haven't wasted a minute. They've squeezed in visits to the Redwoods, Mitai Māori Village, and Mountain Jade into one day.
After a climb up Mauao, Ruehmer and Russell are off to Huka Falls, the Tongariro Crossing, Mt Taranaki, and Wellington before turning their sights on the South Island.
Their only regret is they can't stay longer.
"People keep giving us suggestions about where to go," Russell said. "But we can't get everywhere this time."