Coronavirus: Kiwi couple barred from Peru mercy flight after immigration issues

A Kiwi couple has been left behind in Peru after immigration said they couldn't board a mercy flight to New Zealand.

A seat cost more than $5000, and for 60 Kiwis it was the lifeline they needed to get home.

Ngaire de la Oliva Zamora stayed with her husband in Peru after he encountered visa issues and wasn't allowed to board the flight.

She made the heartbreaking decision to stay with him, but that's now keeping her away from her young children in New Zealand for the foreseeable future.

"The uncertainty of never knowing how to get home to see my family and my kids," she says.

"I just feel like we've been left behind."

But for New Zealander Jogeo Caneles, the flight was a lifeline that allowed him to return home.

Their journey began in Peru's capital Lima where all 60 people were screened in a group, then driven to the door of the first of two flights home.

What they've escaped is what they call hell. Hundreds of Kiwis were trapped in Peru when the country abruptly shut its borders. When the wheels of their plane touched down in Auckland on Wednesday, it brought to an end a month-long ordeal.

Added to that for Caneles was grief - his mother died the same day Peru shut down.

"Now it's time on my own to relax and process everything and then keep going, you know."

But for some this return home has come with a sacrifice. 

"My boyfriend lives in Peru so don't know when I'll see him next, so that was a bit shit," one traveller says.

They've had health checks at both ends and they weren't allowed on the flight if they weren't feeling well. They were screened when they arrived in New Zealand, but by law now they must now enter a strict two-week quarantine.

One family has been torn apart, but for this lucky group they'll be reunited with their families in just 14 days.