Coronavirus: Peterborough couple touring New Zealand in motorhome stuck after country goes into lockdown

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A couple from Peterborough who are touring New Zealand in a motorhome say they remain in good spirits despite being stuck after the country went into lockdown.

Ann and Terry Meadows jetted off on March 2 for a 51 day holiday beginning in Australia, before they headed off to New Zealand where they planned to tour the north and south islands in a motorhome.

However, their plans have gone awry the Government put the country in lockdown, preventing the healthy 67-year-olds from moving on from their camping site in the northern town of Rotorua where they say they are being forced to remain for the time being.

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The couple contacted the Peterborough Telegraph about the situation via email where they made clear: “This isn’t a cry for help, as we believe that we are probably safer here than in the UK, but it’s the not knowing what’s going to happen that is worrying.”

The caravan site where Ann and Terry Meadows are currently staying in New ZealandThe caravan site where Ann and Terry Meadows are currently staying in New Zealand
The caravan site where Ann and Terry Meadows are currently staying in New Zealand

They said they have plane tickets to leave the country but are not allowed to drive to the airport 150 miles away.

They explained: “Our holiday was due to see us move to the Cook Islands today (Monday), but all flights there have been suspended for a couple of months, so at present we have no booked flight back to the UK and there is nothing to suggest that there will be a plane from England in the very near future.

“We are relying on our Government to get the ball rolling to get some flights out from New Zealand, but progress seems slow at present. We understand that two weeks ago there were over 10,000 British people here on travel visa, so there is no telling when we will be in a position to fly out.”

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Fortunately for Ann and Terry they have an internet connection and can contact their three children and grandchildren, but activities are limited.

They are passing their time by reading and talking to neighbours, while they can also exercise on a nearby rugby field and buy food from a supermarket a mile away where only 15 people are allowed in at a time.

Food shortages are not a problem, they said, but the items are more expensive than at home.

There is also a strong and visible police presence.

They added: “While the sun is shining we can amuse ourselves outside, but next week they put the clocks back and so it will be dark around 6.30pm. New Zealand is starting to go into autumn so if the rain starts and the temperature drops they are going to be long days and nights in the van!”

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There have been reports in the national media over the weekend of Brits in New Zealand being quoted £40,000 for flights back to the UK, prompting anger that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not doing more to repatriate them.

A spokesperson told the Observer that the Foreign Office was “working around the clock to support British travellers” and seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible.

The British High Commission in Wellington has also established an online registration system to track and communicate with Brits, the spokesperson added.

Ann and Terry do not anticipate being allowed to leave their campsite for the next few weeks at least, but when they do get home they will at least have had some lovely memories to look back on.

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“We have had a wonderful time while over here,” they added. “We managed to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge on our way over. We are positive and those great memories are not going to be overshadowed by our current situation.”