Yesterday's Australian Travel Bubble announcement has set a million travel plans in action, with Kiwis and Aussies looking to reunite after a year of travel restrictions.
From 19 April, returning Kiwis will be able to bypass a stay in MIQ, opening up a world of quarantine-free travel options in Australia.
Even before we had a concrete date for bubble commencement, travel agents were seeing an uptick in Transtasman interest.
"Demand for a trans-Tasman bubble has been steadily increasing over the past couple of weeks," says David Coombes, managing director for Flight Centre NZ. "Our Travel Experts have already been taking bookings from those eager to visit family and friends in Australia."
Certainty on Australian travel was "something that customers have been asking for, for a long time."
However, while there are huge deals on the ground to incentivise a trip to Australia, there are many pitfalls to watch out for while crossing the Ditch.
The destinations will be familiar but travel is undoubtedly more complicated - a year after the Covid19 Pandemic closed our borders.
Yesterday, the news of new travel options was tempered with a "flyer beware" warning from the prime minister, saying that travel restrictions could change with little notice. The 'traffic light' system, outlined in yesterday's announcement was a warning signal for would-be travellers.
"Booking travel has become more complicated with often new and changing restrictions," says Coombes, who recommends Kiwis make use of travel agents and to help navigate the 'new look' Australia-New Zealand links.
"When the unexpected happens they will be there to assist you with your travel plans."
What to plan for
Expect to spend more on flights but find savings on the ground, says Coombe.
"There are some great value hotel deals which are not far off pre-Covid pricing," he says, but flights are currently priced much higher than normal.
We can expect prices to lower with time says Coombe, but those hoping to be first across the ditch can expect to pay a premium.
The main thing that might cause would-be travellers to pause is a lack of insurance.
"There is no current insurance policy that will cover an extended stay for a customer in the case of a state-wide lockdown," says Coombe. Disruptions is something that Kiwis will have to budget for. Some insurance policies have evolved to cover flyers against other Covid-related disruptions.
Flight Centre has been insuring travellers through CoverMore which covers a range of Covid-19 liabilities, "including a customer or close contact contracting the virus."
Cross-Ditch travel deals
But where are the best deals? Here are the overlooked and underbooked ways to finally bust your Transtasman bubble.
Three nights in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane for under $100pn
Flight Centre is offering Land-Only deals for New Zealanders booking an Australian city break:
Three nights in the Ibis Melbourne from $195pp with a visit to the Star Observation Wheel (20 Apr-16 Jun 21).
A brewery tour of the XXXX Alehouse and three nights at the Park Hotel Brisbane for $225pp (25 Apr-03 May, 19 May-23 Jun 21).
And a tour of Sydney on the Hop on Hop Off Harbour Explorer, with three nights at the King Street Wharf Ibis.
25 per cent off Aussie hotels
Rydges Resorts is offering a quarter off bookings of four nights or more, and 20 per cent off two-night stays. This deal is available Australia-wide.
Similarly the quirky QT is also offering saving of up to 25 per cent off stays of over two nights, until 30 December.
IHG and Hilton are also booking in for a quarter-off stays across Australia, when made before 30 April.
10 per cent off city breaks and activities
Mastercard and Tourism Australia are offering 10 per cent off city activities and stays booked through their 'Holiday Here' website.
Deals include savings off top attractions – such as the Sea life Centre – or bucket-list activities such as a sunrise hot air balloon ride through Sydney's Hunter valley for $287pp or a helicopter flight over the Opera House for $200pp.
Flexible 5-star stays
Luxury brand Travel Associates is offering flexible holiday packages from $259pp, at five-star hotels including two nights at the Four Seasons Sydney waterfront or a 3-night stay in Launceston and tour of Cradle Mountain for under $499pp.
Flights: half-price fares
The Australian federal government is subsidising domestic fares from 1 April, and Kiwis can cash in on this deal too. The 50 per cent rates are being offered across the domestic network of Australia's major airlines and regional carriers.
Qantas is also offering 50 per cent off domestic fares, and also an 'Everywhere Else' domestic sale to regions outside the Federal flight scheme until midnight tomorrow, Sydney time [11.59pm AEST 8 April].
For more details and additional regional links with Pelican, Rex and Link Airways see: