PROFESSOR Jennifer Martin feels "almost euphoric" about returning to her native New Zealand.
The Wellington born Chair of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Newcastle said she and her Dunedin born husband Dr Mike Fay had been "sitting on the Internet while doing other work, just waiting for something to break" on Tuesday, plus had their television on for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's press conference.
"It was unbelievable," Professor Martin said of the news that Australians could travel to New Zealand from April 19 and not have to quarantine.
"We've just been waiting for so long and have had the anticipation of something that then keeps changing - the goalposts keep changing.
"We keep thinking 'We'll be able to go over and see grandma next week' but then something happens. It was almost euphoric."
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Professor Martin said the good news spread quickly.
"All these people who are not New Zealanders but know how much this means were sending us text messages," she said.
"I asked a friend 'Are you going to New Zealand?', knowing they go there for holidaying quite a bit, and she said 'No, we haven't got as big a rush as you guys, so we'll let all the New Zealanders go and get the tickets'."
Dr Fay said he would fly on April 20 to Queenstown to see his sick father.
"It's just in time, I think, I hope, so I'm trying to get over there as quick as I can," he said.
"We're really lucky with the timing.
"He's got a cancer problem and I'm a cancer specialist and have been trying to sort things out remotely and it's been really difficult, so it's great to be finally able to get over there."
Professor Martin and their four children are planning to fly a few days later for the long weekend, but may spread their return dates to reduce the risk of everyone being stuck if borders close.
Professor Martin said the family usually travels over together once or twice a year.
She also flies to Wellington at least every three months for her advisory role with the health department and each family member also makes individual trips.
The last time they went as a family was Christmas 2019, although Professor Martin and two children went over last January for ocean swimming.
"We used to go over all the time, whenever there was something on," she said.
"It was just like going to Sydney, but a bit longer."
Professor Martin said she joined social media last year and has also used video calls and text messages to stay in touch, but it hasn't replaced being there for each of their fathers' 80th birthdays and the death of a relative.
"When your older relatives are getting old you don't notice that they're frail because you're not seeing them, but actually a year can be a long time for either small children that are growing up or the elderly.
"Suddenly you realise things have happened and you haven't been there to help them, or you've missed out on some important milestone."
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