Flying back to the safety of home after the lockdown

“It was eerie,” is how Raglan woman Margaret Huxtable described her drive back from Auckland Airport last Thursday night.

The 70-year-old had been in Australia for a family wedding since March 11 and was due to fly back last Saturday.

Sitting tight in Australia and waiting to hear from Air NZ of any changes to her flight, Margaret was keeping up-to date with the news from New Zealand but life in Australia seemed mostly unchanged.

“It’s was so different over there (Gold Coast). Everyone still had to go to work and there were some cafes open serving takeaway food. People were still driving around.”

Even when the lockdown was imminent, Margaret says there was still confusion about how people returning from overseas were to get to their homes to self-isolate.

“I spoke to one lady on my flight whose connecting flight to Nelson was cancelled. She didn’t realise that she could get picked up from the airport and self-isolate with the driver or drive her own car home.” Margaret says the woman was facing quarantine in an Auckland hotel for two weeks.

One of Margaret’s granddaughters had driven her car and another granddaughter had followed in another car to the airport on Wednesday, leaving the keys in a safe place. This meant Margaret could drive back on her own to Raglan to self-isolate.

She said the flight back was only around a third full and they were given free meals and free movies. On arrival they were escorted by police off the plane 10 at a time to a health checking area, where they had their temperatures taken and were asked various questions about their health and how they were getting home.

Once she found her car, Margaret said the relief was immense, so much so she drove off without her bags and realised once she had left the carpark. Luckily, she was able to park her car nearby and go back for her bags.

Although Margaret could have stayed in Australia with her son, she was worried it could have been months before she made it back to New Zealand.

“I’m feeling very relieved to be home and so thankful I live in Raglan where the supermarkets are offering home delivery.”

Janine Jackson