A year on and Wellington ready to welcome its trans-Tasman whānau

16 Apr 2021

Photo credit: Yuvraj Kaintel @xwb.aviation

It’s been a while, but Wellington is ready and waiting for its first trans-Tasman, quarantine-free flight scheduled to arrive from Sydney at 1pm on Monday 19 April.

Preparations at Wellington International Airport are complete, hotels and operators have experienced a boost in bookings, while family and friends are primed for some emotional reunions.

Wellington Airport Chief Executive Steve Sanderson says Wellington Airport is delighted to provide a safe, warm and welcoming experience for international travellers after more than a year without international flights.

“We are extremely excited to welcome our Australian guests and returning New Zealanders and can’t wait to see families and friends reunited with each other again.”

Reuniting Australians and Kiwis are in for a treat with a special arrival at Wellington Airport. It includes live music and a big welcome event; special welcome messages for our Aussie guests throughout the terminal; and some spectacular new backdrops throughout the terminal.

There will also be a 250 metre by 12 metre Welcome Whānau and Tiaki promise mural on the grass at the northern end of the runway to greet flights and passengers arriving in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, with an audio Karanga and Karakia expressing warm sentiments of welcome and protection while in Aotearoa.

The moment will be quintessentially Kiwi, providing space for passengers to have their reunion and ensuring the world knows New Zealand welcomes anyone willing to embrace our values, care for people and care for our place. This is encapsulated in the Tiaki Promise, a commitment to our future by helping to protect our environment, our culture and our people.

The welcome is a unique collaboration between Air New Zealand, WellingtonNZ and Wellington Airport with support from New Zealand Māori Tourism and Tourism New Zealand.

WellingtonNZ General Manager Anna Calver says Wellington and Wellingtonians are ready to provide a big kia ora – g’day to our friends and family from across the Tasman.

“We know that Wellington is an important destination for Australian travellers as a place to visit for an arts and cuisine-filled short break, an important business opportunity or event, and as a place to catch up with friends and family.”

“We are buzzing over the fact that we can welcome our Australian whānau back and delighted there is a light at the end of a dark Covid tunnel for those local businesses hurting through a lack of international visitors. Bring it on.”

Key Wellington tourism operator Weta Workshop has welcomed the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble which has already led to an increase in bookings for both their Weta Cave Workshop Tour and Miniature Effects Tour.

Weta Workshop Head of Tourism Jake Downing says it is a great start that will only get better as Australian tourism to the city increases.

“Australia is Weta Workshop’s largest international visitor market and we have some great new additions to the Wellington experience for them to enjoy such as insights to some very successful recent movies we’ve worked on.

“We are ready to provide an utterly authentic movie-effects experience and genuine Kiwi welcome to friends from across the pond.”

Wellington hotels and tourism businesses felt an immediate impact when the New Zealand Government announced the trans-Tasman bubble would open on 19 April.

“We’re seeing an increase in bookings at Sofitel Wellington as people reconnect with friends and family and plan holidays to explore our great city as part of their New Zealand holiday”, says AGM CP Hotels Wellington General Manager Raymond Faulkner. “Short term corporate stays have also booked into May and June, which is great for both the hotel and surrounding businesses.

“The trans-Tasman bubble is a very welcome milestone for the tourism industry and will help reinvigorate Wellington and the rest of the country.

“The move takes us closer towards the revival and resurgence of the travel industry and we’re excited about welcoming our Australian guests and returning Kiwis. There’s so much our city has to explore and entertain – from restaurants and theatre to exhibitions and sporting events,” Mr Faulkner says.