After 477 days apart, Rachel Thompson finally had her grandson back in her arms, as the first direct flight from New Zealand landed in Adelaide after more than a year.
Her daughter Milly, who lives in Auckland with her fiance and son George, is visiting South Australia to spend time with her mother.
The child, who is shy of turning two years of age, was only nine months old the last time he saw his grandmother.
A “very excited” Rachel, of Semaphore, said she’d spend the next two weeks reconnecting with her daughter and going to the beach.
She joked she would retire early to spend more time with her visitors who she missed dearly.
“I didn’t realise it was the first (direct) flight to Adelaide. We just booked as soon as we had clearance,” Ms Thompson said.
Milly said she couldn’t describe how happy she felt, and it would be “very difficult” to leave when she returned home.
“I just home mum can visit us in New Zealand,” she said.
Rachel Thompson hugs her daughter Milly and grandson George, who she hadn’t seen for 477 days. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
The trio were reunited after Milly and George arrived on the first direct flight from New Zealand to Adelaide as part of the trans-Tasman bubble. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
Emotions were running high at Adelaide Airport on Wednesday as the 73 passengers on-board the Auckland flight arrived in SA.
Many families and friends were reconnected, and the tears flowed as they embraced their loved ones.
Travellers were greeted with a welcome to country by Major Sumner and were treated to a pop-up oyster shucking bar as well as being given other SA goodies like Maggie Beer canapes, Bleasdale sparkling shiraz and Haigh’s Chocolates.
Brian and Toni Cleland, of Henley Beach, held their 19-year-old daughter Macy for the first time in 16 months after she moved to New Zealand to study.
The graphic arts and multimedia student was also greeted by her sister Belle, 17, and brother Manning, 14.
“I can do my studies online, so I might stay here for a bit,” Miss Cleland said.
Her mother said it was “good to have her back” and she hugged her.
Mr Cleland said his daughter booked a one-way flight and hoped she’d stay with them for about six months.
“She wants to catch up with her friends again,” he said.
Traveller Macy Cleland, 19, (second left) was welcomed by her immediate family. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
Her father Brian said he hoped Macy would stay for about six months. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
She hugged her siblings Belle and Manning after not seeing them for 16 months. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
Lisa Moon, from Christchurch, said she was feeling “very emotional” after she was reunited with her father Alan.
She said she was spending her 3½ week holiday in SA catching up with loved ones and enjoying Haigh’s Chocolates.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” the 38-year-old said as she hugged her father.
A teary-eyed Mr Moon, 72, had no words to describe the feeling of seeing his daughter.
Alan Moon cried as he saw his daughter Lisa arrive in SA. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
Air New Zealand will run up to four direct flights a week from Adelaide in July.
The airline’s general Australian sales manager Paul McLean said it was hard to gauge what passenger numbers would look like for those flights but expected “good results”.
He said it was exciting to be able to show what New Zealand had to offer to South Australian tourists.
SA Tourism Commission chief executive Rodney Harrex said there was an opportunity to continue building into the demand for NZ-SA tourism.
He said the state had more than 40,000 visitors a year from New Zealand, equating to $45m towards the visitor economy.
Travellers answered COVID-19 questions after arriving from Auckland. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Brenton EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia
New Zealand was SA’s fourth largest international inbound market pre-COVID, with about 43,000 trips made to the state in 2019.
Since the trans-Tasman bubble was announced, the SATC’s southaustralia.com website had a 30 per cent increase in visits from Kiwis.
Premier Steven Marshall said he was looking forward to showing the nation's neighbours what the state had to offer.
“New Zealand is such an important market for our state. It’s going to create and sustain tourism jobs as well as investment at a time the sector needs it the most,” he said.
The last direct flight from New Zealand to Adelaide was on March 27 last year.
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