Holiday couple stranded in New Zealand as country goes into lockdown
PUBLISHED: 11:42 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:09 25 March 2020
A Suffolk couple are desperately trying to secure flights back to the UK from New Zealand after their dream holiday turned into a disaster because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jade Hatfield and Mitchell Human flew to the country at the start of March for a three-week holiday, but are now taking refuge in a hostel as they hope to secure a route home.
But the pair have been left frustrated by both extortionate flight prices and frequent airline cancellations.
Miss Hatfield, from Haverhill, said: “Everything was absolutely fine, but then we got the feeling that we should really get back home.
“We have been pleading with our travel agents to get us home sooner.
“But you can’t get hold of anyone to talk about this.”
New Zealand - which has 205 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 - is currently in lockdown, with citizens ordered to stay at home.
Miss Hatfield and Mr Human had been travelling throughout the country, visiting both the North Island and South Island, as the coronavirus crisis escalated worldwide.
They decided to cut their holiday short and head home to be with their families, spending hundreds to change their flights to an earlier date.
But as almost all flights to the UK stop in countries that have closed their borders, their efforts so far have been fruitless as airlines suspend their services.
Flights that have been running have proved particularly expensive, with one priced at £7,500 per seat.
Miss Hatfield said providers have been taking customer’s money before cancelling flights, only offering credit instead of a full refund.
She and her partner have managed to secure temporary accommodation in a hostel in Auckland - but if they left to go to the airport and their flight was cancelled, they would not be able to return due to government guidelines.
In response, a Haverhill resident has launched a GoFundMe page to help the pair secure funding for flights and accommodation.
Miss Hatfield added: “We need to know the flight we book is taking off before we leave this hostel.
“We are stranded here. It’s quite a worrying time for us.
“We feel we have just been abandoned and we are worried about our families.”