Coronavirus: British man desperate to get home after COVID-19 restrictions leave him stranded in NZ

Mike Rowland.
Mike Rowland. Photo credit: Supplied

A British man's trip to New Zealand has turned out to be a far cry from the "holiday of a lifetime" he imagined, after COVID-19 restrictions left him stranded in Auckland.

Mike Rowland, a retired police officer from Portishead, told the Bristol Post he feels like he's stuck in a prison here.

The 69-year-old arrived in New Zealand for a holiday with his wife on February 13. The couple were supposed to fly home on March 25, but with the border closed and the country in lockdown they haven't been able to go anywhere. 

"On March 23, Singapore stopped all transit passengers into the country and our flights were cancelled. From that point on we’ve been stranded," Rowland told the Bristol Post.

He and his wife are currently holed-up in a motel in Auckland waiting for a chance to leave the country. 

There are more than 9000 Britons registered for repatriation in New Zealand, with tens of thousands of UK citizens stranded around the world due to the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The country's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on Tuesday (NZ time) the Government would be earmarking £75 million (NZ$154 million) to fly Brits home from all over the world, including New Zealand.

The Government would foot the bill so those stranded where commercial routes still operated would be flown home "at little or no cost" and where commercial flights were no longer running the Government would organise special charter flights, Raab said.

That news will come as a relief to Rowland, who told the Bristol Post that it was "pandemonium" trying to organise getting home. 

"We are almost resigned to our fate. How long are we going to be here? God knows," he said.

To make the frustration of being in lockdown worse, Rowland said TV in New Zealand was "dreadful". 

"There is no information. Even the breakfast news here is like a sixth form experiment compared to Good Morning Britain," he said.

"It really is desperate. Piers Morgan is a God compared to what we are looking at."

It is unclear what channel Rowland was referring to.

All-in-all, Rowland said being stuck here without being able to travel around or to even meet with other travellers stuck at the same hotel was like being in a prison.

"It’s a bit like Alcatraz here."