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Aussie residents caught in Kiwi lockdown finally return home.

When New Zealand went into COVID19 'lockdown' at 11.59 p.m - March 25, 2020,  Australian residents Barbara & John Wilde found themselves on the wrong side of the Tasman. 

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With permission we share this account from long time South Proud followers Barbara & John Wilde, a pair of expat Kiwis now residing in Australia.

Every year Barbara & John return to New Zealand where they store a caravan and tow vehicle to set out visiting family and exploring our beautiful country. John is an avid angler and is spoiled for choice, chasing trout as they travel.  Their recent sojourn was disrupted when New Zealand went into COVID19 lockdown and their flights back to Australia were cancelled. They spent 50 days in lockdown in Gore during COVID level 4 restrictions. 

"We were at Lake Sylvan (the camp at the start of the Routeburn Track). There was no cell phone coverage and we didn’t know that New Zealand had moved from COVID level two to level three. John had turned on the radio in the car to hear on a very scratchy signal that we were going into level four 'lockdown' and there was no way we could stay in isolated DOC camps. We did a speedy pack up and left. Once within cell phone range we were able to phone the Gore A & P showgrounds to secure a caravan spot on power for $10 per night. We were the last campers accepted as each vehicle had to have plenty of space to adhere to social distancing rules.  We developed a showground bubble, enjoying long chats with other campers (at a distance of course) and making sure each of us was ok. We met some wonderful and caring people during those 50 days. As soon as level two came into effect we were able to resume travelling, making our way up the West Coast to the Nelson region for warmer weather and to wait until we could get a flight back to Australia".

28 July, 2020

"Here we sit in our Sydney hotel in quarantine. What a flight home!

Auckland international airport was like a ghost town but the one in Sydney was more so. Only nine of us got off the plane in Sydney as the rest were in transit to Europe. We had the terminal to ourselves, apart from the authorities. After a health check and temps taken we went down to customs, (no queues) and were ushered to an awaiting bus. We didn’t know which hotel we would go to but we got a good one and what a view we have!

We are treated so well and get a call each day to check on our health and mental well-being. Our meals are pretty good, like airline food. We will not starve. Our daughter gave us a care package of extra goodies including a couple of bottles of wine and a lovely selection of cheese. We've had two Covid tests - so far so good. We can open our door but we are not allowed to go out into the hallway. There are security guards stationed on each floor. We keep busy doing exercises in our room as we are not allowed outdoors and I do my crocheting or puzzles and games. We have been given puzzle books and colouring in pages, pencils and a sharpener. All going well we will be out this Friday. I think John is enjoying this lazing around caper, he doesn’t want to leave but I can’t wait to get home. 

Prior to our flight home we enjoyed a trip from Nelson to Christchurch, stayed in Richmond to catch up with family, then Blenheim to catch up with camping friends.  We stayed at a few places we haven’t been to before like Ward Beach then drove up to Lake Taylor from Hurunui followed by a trip to the top of Lake Coleridge. We stayed at Springfield and got to drive up to see the snow on Porters Pass. The highlight was going on the Tranz Alpine train trip to Greymouth where we stayed overnight. All the snow that came the week before had melted - Buggar!

The Covid 'thing' here is getting out of hand. It’s funny that the narrative here in Australia is what we were hearing four months ago in New Zealand.   People are just so silly and can’t be trusted to do the right thing. We'll just go home and keep away from everyone to stay safe". 

Many thanks to Barbara & John aka 'The Wilde Things', for sharing their story. 

*Abridged

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