Coronavirus: Rescue flights take off from New Zealand

Two rescue flights left New Zealand on Saturday, one carrying 370 German and European citizens, and another taking passengers home to Australia.  

Rescued from New Zealand's lockdown by the German Government, flying out from Auckland on Saturday morning on a Lufthansa aircraft. But only a lucky few got onboard.

"I would've loved to go on that flight, but since I'm located in the South Island I will have to wait until flights from Christchurch will be arranged and that flight today went from Auckland," said German national Emma Forster.

Forster, 18, arrived in Dunedin in February, where she's been working with a host family as an au pair. Last week she booked an urgent flight to take her home, but it was cancelled.  

"Everything has been cancelled so there's no chance for me to get home other than having to rely on the German government," she said.

Germany has committed to flying all 12,000 of its citizens in New Zealand home, but on Friday our Government put the plan on hold until at least Tuesday. 

However, a Virgin Australia flight was given permission to fly to Queenstown this afternoon to take any passengers home to Australia.  

"We'll be pleased to get home, where we can do self-isolation and stop putting pressure on family here to keep us and feed us and house us," said Australian tourist Amy McGibbon.

While many are scrambling to get out of New Zealand, one stranded Kiwi has finally made it home.

Joy Vient was trapped on a cruise ship off the coast of Africa. On Friday night, she made it back to Auckland, where she's being quarantined in a central city hotel.   

"We've got here in the end and we're just so glad that we're back in New Zealand," she said. 

Vient had to book six different flights and can't go home to the South Island for another two weeks, but she feels lucky. 

"There are New Zealanders that were on our ship that are left behind and they are making the best of a bad situation."

MFAT is in contact with nearly 24,000 New Zealanders overseas who are seeking assistance. 

A tweak to the lockdown rules today means Kiwis who do manage to get here will now be able to travel home when they land.

"Those arriving at an international port who are able to get home with no more than five hours travel by car will be permitted to do so under certain circumstances, private vehicle, one driver, two or three passengers," said All of Government Controller John Ombler.

Some regional flights will be allowed too.