Topher Richwhite, Bridget Thackwray: Travel expert says 'self-responsibility was sadly lacking' by influencers who entered Iran

Two Kiwi travel influencers who were just released from Iran after having their movements restricted have been slammed for travelling to the country despite being warned it was unsafe to do so.

Topher Richwhite and Bridget Thackwray entered Iran in July as part of an 'Expedition Earth' world tour they were documenting on their social media accounts. 

While they may not have been imprisoned - Newshub understands the pair's movements were restricted - they were held in more than one place and could not leave without Government intervention. That could mean they had their passports taken. 

Travel editor and media commentator Mike Yardley told Newshub there has been a longstanding status that Iran is on a Do Not Travel footing from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade for several years.

"I am surprised that so-called travel influencers were oblivious to that status - or spurned the official advice and threw caution to the wind," Yardley said.

"Either way, self-responsibility was sadly lacking."

Behind the scenes at the Beehive, there is a sense of "incredulity" at the actions of these influencers, with one senior minister throwing words like "stupid" and "entitled" around, Newshub Political Editor Jenna Lynch reported.  

Stuff reported that the pair had asked another traveller about whether it was safe to enter Iran, to which the traveller warned them not to go - but they didn't listen.

The Safe Travel website run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also alerted Kiwis against travelling to Iran, and recently the website has updated that advice.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced on Wednesday morning before news of the pair's release broke, the Government was stepping up its official travel advice for Iran.

"The new advice for Iran reiterates the existing “Do Not Travel” warning, and adds that due to the potential for violent civil unrest, the risk of arrest or detention and the volatile security situation in the region, the risk to safety in Iran is significant," Mahuta said.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has warned against travel to Iran since early 2020. New Zealanders currently in Iran are advised to leave. Protests are continuing throughout the country, and there has been an increased number of foreign nationals arrested."

There's been an increase in the number of foreign nationals being arrested during the ongoing protests, the Safe Travel website said.

"Travellers in Iran are at risk of arbitrary arrest or detention, including New Zealanders."