A top New Zealand chef has had a lucky return from Australia, after getting caught in lockdown just prior to the transtasman eight-week bubble pause.
Renowned food writer and broadcaster Peta Mathias was in Margaret River earlier this month on a five-day trip with Western Australia Tourism, when Perth went into a snap lockdown. It was another 11 days before she could fly home.
Mathias admits she had thought the trip would be low risk.
"I thought it would be really safe, there's no risk, the likelihood of anything going wrong is really really slim. So off I went," she says.
Fortunately Mathias was staying in Margaret River, which is far enough away from Perth and the Peel region, meaning she was still able to move around the area relatively freely without restrictions.
"So I just stayed in Margaret River and I did a whole lot more research and found a whole lot of interesting stories, so it was okay. It was a good outcome for me, as it isn't for most people."
Mathias has friends in Western Australia so she didn't feel lonely and was still able to go out, meet locals and dine in at cafes and restaurants. Once Perth reopened, she travelled there to continue researching more stories, while contending with other stranded travellers for the coveted spots on a plane home.
"I'm fortunate they got me on a plane. It's all very well to say the bubble is on again, you can come home, but there are thousands of people who want those flights."
In non-Covid times, Mathias would usually be hosting culinary tours all around the world, and spending six months of each year in her home in the South of France. Instead, she's been holding tours around New Zealand, deepening her connection here.
"Because I only live here for six months of the year, you tend to only ever be here on a superficial level. And within those six months I'm usually doing tours off in the world and coming back again.
"I can feel like my roots are getting much much deeper the longer I stay, so who knows what the future holds. But it's tricky because I'm two people."
She says New Zealanders have supported her in her new business model, something she feels extremely grateful for.
"I've been doing speaking engagements and cooking classes all over New Zealand, and people have been coming to them so it's been really touching."
“It’s not what I expected to be doing with my life but it is what I’m doing and that’s been great, it’s been fantastic.”