Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Auckland nurse one of many crossing the border this week as restrictions ease

The new-found freedom to travel in and out of Auckland has made Christmas merrier for some Bay of Plenty families.

Restrictions on the Auckland border eased at 11.50pm. Those exiting or entering need to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours.

Among those in the exodus south will be Chelsea Cain, who will visit her parents at the weekend.

The 29-year-old stem cell transplant nurse has not spent Christmas with her family for years and is anxious to do so this year.

After nearly nine years on the Gold Coast, Cain moved to Auckland to be closer to her parents this year but was only able to see them a few times in the two weeks before the August Covid-19 lockdown.

While she had been granted two exemptions for travel during the border restrictions, the visits were brief.

“I felt bad even though it was legal. It will be nice to have a bit of normality.”

She did not intend to wait any longer to see them again and has planned a trip down to her hometown of Katikati on Saturday, straight after finishing work.

One of the hardest parts of the border restrictions for her was not having her support network close by after making the move; with most of her family and friends near Tauranga it had been difficult to make new connections and friends.

“It has been mentally tiring.

“I cannot blooming wait to get over that border.”

Tears are expected.

The emotion of the experience was well understood by her colleague in Auckland, who switched the Christmas shift so Cain could spend the day with her small family.

Tauranga mum of two Stephanie Strong knew her reunion with her Auckland-based parents would also be emotional.

The moment would be joy-filled, she said, which was fitting given the time of year.

“The best Christmas present ever.”

Strong’s 9-month-old baby Asher would see his grandparents for the first time in six months.

She predicted lots of snuggles.

His brother Coen, 5, will be told about the visit today: “He is at the age where he is kind of understanding what is going on.”

Like Cain, Strong said even though she would be doing things by the book, it felt “surreal.”

“It may feel unusual, like, ‘should I be here?’ I know I’m allowed to.”

The much-anticipated border lift happened at 11.59pm last night following 16 weeks in lockdown, and residents were expected to flee the city in droves, desperate to reconnect with family and friends.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency was asking motorists for patience and space to safely dismantle barriers at the boundary checkpoints.

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