Being stranded in Australia was not all bad for Oamaru’s Kate Caldwell when the transtasman bubble burst earlier this month.
The swim coach and student spoke to the Oamaru Mail last week from the “middle of nowhere”, where her brother Andrew manages a sheep and crop farm about two hours’ drive from Perth.
Miss Caldwell and her mother, Fiona, had travelled to Kujan, Western Australia, to meet Andrew’s first baby, Charlie (5 months).
“Then Perth went into lockdown, and then we were like, ‘oh God, OK, we can’t leave any more’.”
The pair were due to fly back into New Zealand on July 2, but the Government pressed pause on quarantine-free travel with Australia on June 26, due to multiple cases and outbreaks of the ultra-contagious Delta strain of Covid-19. Travel resumed with Western Australia at 11.59pm last Friday, and they managed to get back into the country on Monday.
Having their holiday extended did not upset the pair too much, as it meant they got to enjoy a bit of extra family time. They were also lucky to not have the added concern of paying for accommodation, she said.
“It’s actually been really good,” Miss Caldwell said.
“Probably the most stressful thing would be organising flights, because over here we hear nothing about New Zealand, so to try and find information about what’s happening in New Zealand, about if we can come home, or what they’re doing, is so hard over here.
“So we’ve had to get in touch with people back home to find out what’s happening.”
Rebooking cancelled flights also proved a challenge.
“Because you can’t get a refund or change your flights online, you’ve got to ring.
“So we were on hold for four hours, trying to change our flights, and even then flights were $2000, just to get back. It was insane.”
Although they had to pay a bit more to fly home as soon as possible, both women needed to get back to work – Miss Caldwell at the Waitaki Aquatic Centre, and her English literature and management study, while her mother was due to start a new job, she said.