So near and yet so far.
Te Puke woman Nanette Bonthuys is currently holed up in a central Auckland hotel, sitting out 14 days of supervised isolation.
She will be back with her family - husband Jacques and their four children Jazette, Nanique, Ziaan and Keon - next Tuesday after last seeing them in February.
Nanette was one many stranded overseas when countries began closing their borders and airlines started cancelling flights as the Covid-19 pandemic spread globally .
She left for South Africa on February 26 on a mercy mission.
The planned month-long visit extended through March and into April, then May - and she finally arrived by in New Zealand on Tuesday last week.
From her hotel room in the Grand Mercure, she told Te Puke Times it was wonderful to be back on New Zealand soil.
''It was good, a relief,'' she said. ''It just feels strange that I am here, but I can't see my family. However, I know it's the rules and you have to abide by them and it is for the good of everyone.''
Jacques and Nanette came to New Zealand from South Africa in 2002
''The last time any of us were in South Africa was 13 or 14 years ago,'' said Jacques, ''the only family we've effectively got left there is Nanette's mum.
''She came over for Christmas and literally when she went back home, she got diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer and needed an emergency operation and is now in hospice.''
Nanette flew to South Africa to help her mum.
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She was due to return on March 26, but as New Zealand went into alert level 4 lockdown, that flight was cancelled and she was stuck.
''It was exceptionally stressful and the South African lockdown was at a completely different level to here,'' said Jacques. ''They had military patrolling the streets and she was effectively in a strange country.''
Efforts to find an alternative flight proved fruitless.
''We tried four or five different airlines and all the flights just got cancelled one after another,'' said Jacques.
''The border shut and there were no commercial flights at all during that period, which I understand was for the betterment of the country.''
Jacques said it was disappointing that while there were repatriation flights from places like Peru, Brazil and India, ''there was nothing happening in the South Africa context at that time''.
A chartered flight that would have brought New Zealanders and Australians home from South Africa towards the end of the alert level4 lockdown also failed to materialise.
Qatar Airways stepped in, but there was initially a false start with just one of six planned flights between May 5 and May 16 getting off the ground.
''Then they announced I think five flights and they were pretty much booked out in about half an hour,'' said Jacques.
With just business class seats available, the cost was NZ$5,500, and there was still the matter of actually enduring the journey - Johannesburg to Doha, 18 hours in Doha, on to Melbourne where there was an overnight stay, then across the Tasman.
It has been a long and trying time
''I think sometimes it's discouraging because you put your hopes on something and it gets shattered,'' said Nanette.
The journey began not at Johannesburg airport, but at the Qatar Embassy.
''It started with us standing outside the embassy where you had to tick off the appropriate papers and then they put you on a bus to take you to the airport.''
In Melbourne those staying in Australia were separated from those in transit then taken to quarantine, while those overnighting were taken to their hotel under police escort.
More than 60 hours after leaving South Africa, Nanette landed at Auckland Airport.
Now she is biding her time in the Grand Mercure Hotel .
''They have really done the best they can. They give you booklets that give you quite a few options and websites to do exercises in your room. They take you for walks that are chaperoned and also, if you want, you can do some courses online which is pretty cool.''
Jacques will drive to Auckland on Tuesday and him collecting her from the hotel is, unsurprisingly, the thing she is looking forward to most about finishing her isolation.
''Then it is seeing my immediate family and then to see my friends who I haven't seen for ages.''
While Nanette has been away Jacques has kept the family going.
''I was able to work from home while trying to home school my kids. The two boys are too young to do school work by themselves effectively.''
He was also working with the Ministry for Primary Industries to get a sawmill back up and running.
''There were lots of things all happening at once and at times the kids battled mentally.''
The family called Nanette twice a day.
''But it was in a part of South Africa where it is really difficult to communicate and the data and wifi, it was really difficult to get it to work properly.''
Talking by phone was no substitute for being together.
''She's my life partner. We talk about everything and help each other with stuff and I just didn't have that adult interaction at all. We didn't have that ability to have a chat about what's going on in life or have a glass of wine and go 'yep, alright, we'll get there'.''
Jacques said Tuesday is likely to be a very emotional day for the family.