The German airline Lufthansa bid a fond farewell to New Zealand today with a low pass over Auckland as its A380 left Aotearoa to take German citizens back home.

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Aucklanders were treated to the rare sight of the massive plane travelling low over the central city and Waitemata Harbour just before 10am today, with many heading outside to capture the rare event on photo and video.

Altitude information revealed just how low the plane was travelling when it passed over Auckland, with onlookers noting it was "a beautiful day for it".

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The flyover was especially notable for the fact that Lufthansa does not normally fly to New Zealand.

The 509-seat A380 flew over South Auckland before passing over the city centre en-route to Bangkok where it will refuel and then carry on to Germany.

The airline operated its first service here in 20 years last weekend with its first repatriation flight, a Boeing 747, from Auckland.

The website Simple Flying says that in total, 40 flights will be necessary, two in each direction per rotation, requiring 210 crew.

Fellow German airline Condor has operated a charter out of Christchurch and Austrian and Swiss airlines have picked up passengers in Auckland.

Air New Zealand is also flying repatriation missions for the Dutch government, meeting KLM flights in Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong.

Auckland Airport's general manager aeronautical commercial Scott Tasker said the flyby was a "wonderful tribute to the many Kiwis who had helped stranded German travellers trying to get home".

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"Since the first repatriation flight last Saturday, we've had 16 of these special flights with a range of chartered carriers carrying 6700 passengers home. It's an emotional time, and we're proud of our frontline staff who have done so much to help those travellers."

Lufthansa Group Airlines has been running a schedule of 12 repatriation flights from Auckland Airport and Christchurch Airport to Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website