Coronavirus: Tourists hunker down in New Zealand rather than fly with baby

People arrive at Auckland Airport wearing face masks.
People arrive at Auckland Airport wearing face masks. Photo credit: Getty

By Tess Brunton of RNZ

A Spanish couple say they are anxious about taking a repatriation flight with their six-month-old baby.

Laia, her husband and their baby arrived in New Zealand at the start of March for a month-long trip.

After two cancelled flights home, they changed their flights to June and found a place to stay for lockdown.

Laia said she had been in contact with her embassy since the start.

"They have been informing us about possible options to return home, but we have considered them not suitable for a baby.

"First they recommended us to buy flights with Qatar, but some of them were cancelled and without final destination Barcelona. Then they offered some places with repatriation flights from France and Germany. But the final destination was Paris or Frankfurt," she said.

"Some Spaniards returned home with these flights and then they had to be in Frankfurt airport for 48 hours, or they had to drive from Paris to Barcelona. We thought that these options were not safe enough to travel with a baby. We didn't have any New Zealand-Spain repatriation flight."

The couple felt safe and lucky to be in a country where COVID-19 was more under control, she said.

"It has been a rollercoaster of emotions, we had great days but also bad days and felt anxious because of the situation here and at home - much worse than here - and scared for the uncertain future and not knowing when we will be able to return home," Laia said.

The family are staying in a house in Staveley, Canterbury.

"We couldn't be in a better place in this situation. It's a nice and quiet area. We can walk every day around the house with nice views of the mountains, the neighbourhood is worrying for our situation and our hosts make us feel like family," Laia said.

They hoped to move accommodation when New Zealand reaches lower levels to give their hosts some space, she said.