Couple's 3 week Australia trip turns into 6 month ordeal

Source: 1News

Kiwis in Australia have been locked out of the latest MIQ room release, closing off all options for those who'd hoped to make it home early in the new year.

The uncertainty around when New Zealand's border will open means airlines have not scheduled any red zone flights from Australia.

Among those impacted are the MacLeod's who sold their Auckland home of 30 years but can't get back to New Zealand to sort our their move to Northland.

A three week trip to Noosa to see their oldest son when the trans-Tasman bubble opened last year is now six months and counting.

"Since then we have been trying the MIQ lottery, but it's just not even disheartening to be honest, it's just incredibly frustrating," Iain MacLeod told 1News.

"Not that we are unhappy to compete with other New Zealanders who want to go home, but it is soul destroying when you see DJs and all sorts of other people are getting exemptions and other MIQ rooms ahead of New Zealanders."

From March, airlines aren't scheduling any flights from Australia for travellers who'll go into MIQ, expecting that will no longer be required.

"The New Zealand Government has signalled that MIQ-free travel for New Zealanders travelling from Australia is expected to resume at the end of February, and in response to this we are operating a schedule of green flights from Australia in March and April," an Air New Zealand spokesperson told 1News.

"If a decision is made to extend the requirement for travellers from Australia to enter MIQ beyond the end of February, then we will update our schedule accordingly and ensure there are red flights available for customers to return.

"Our hearts go out to customers who are trying to return home to New Zealand and face continued uncertainty, particularly over this holiday period. We’re doing everything we can to get them home."

But with no matching flights, Thursday's MIQ lottery is not an option for those across the Tasman.

The initial January 17 date for MIQ-free travel from Australia was pushed back to at least the end of February over concerns with Omicron, but there are no guarantees this will go ahead as planned.

The Government said any decisions will be made based on the most up-to-date public health advice.

"We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for those who are trying to get back into the country. However, our border settings are in place to protect lives and livelihoods of New Zealanders," a spokesperson for the Government told 1News.

"No decision has been made to change the proposed timeline for moving to self isolation, but we are always keeping an eye on the latest developments and will make decisions based on the most up to date public health advice."

It's hoped the extra time will allow more people to get booster shots and for children aged 5-11 to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

"Officials are working closely with airlines in relation to schedules and future MIQ room releases. There are further rooms available for March and April that will be released in future lobbies," the spokesperson added.

However, National's Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop said "New Zealand cannot remain the hermit kingdom forever".

"We do need to start allowing New Zealanders around the rest of the world to come home to their country of origin, their country of citizenship," he told 1News.

But the MacLeod's said they're almost at the point of giving up trying to get home.

"My wife said to me yesterday, it's time we flew our two cats from Mt Eden to Noosa because we can't keep living in limbo like this," Iain said.

"I'm really resisting, I can tell you the truth is if the cats come over here, that's kind of like it."