Coronavirus: Kiwis evacuated from South America almost home

A group of New Zealanders stuck in South America for a month are now on their way home.

The group of seven say they are relieved to have arrived in the United States after spending at least $4000 each so far to try to get back home.

Matthew Taylor and Amelia Nisbet, who are both 27, had spent the last three years in London and were taking the scenic route home through Central America when the pandemic struck and the village where the hostel that they were working at was suddenly cordoned off.

The couple were saved by the New Zealand and US embassies, which organised a mercy flight for them out of Guatemala.

"We didn't know if we were going to get through so we had to carry extra cash on us in case we were going to get bribed by the police or the military, got in and then that's when we met the five other Kiwis," Taylor said.

"We got our flight to Houston and when we got there, it was just about a four-hour wait, now we've got to LA so we're just hoping that we can get on the next flight to New Zealand and nothing else happens," he said.

On board the flight were five other New Zealanders including Piedad and Simon Bird and their six-year-old daughter Lelly, Sachin Dheda (from Auckland), Sophia Yanko (from Nelson).

Taylor said the group met one another at the Guatemala airport and the group landed in Los Angeles.

Taylor said his destination is Christchurch, and he has not lived in New Zealand for three years.