From RNZ

For some New Zealand travellers it has been a struggle to get home under Covid-19 travel restrictions, but for one man in Wellington it has been impossible to leave.

New Zealand citizen Chris Elphick has been holed up in a Wellington hotel since before lockdown started, waiting for a flight to Vanuatu where he now lives, and where his partner is waiting.

"On Saturday, it will be 70 days," he told Checkpoint.

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"We moved to Vanuatu about three years ago, and I work in Melanesia, between Vanuatu and the Solomons."

He was due to go home from the Solomons to Port Vila – a two-hour flight – but 15 minutes before take-off the flight was cancelled. It was the last one available.

"So the only way was Solomons to here, or Brisbane then to Wellington, and then a flight from Auckland home. That was cancelled. And that was the day of lockdown level 4.

Around the room in 70 days: New Zealander's long lockdown in hotel

NZer Chris Elphick has been holed up in a Wellington hotel for about 70 days, since before lockdown started, basically trapped, waiting for a flight to back to Vanuatu where he now lives, and where his partner is waiting. "There's not much I can do about it. People are very friendly. Radio New Zealand has been great because I've been listening to it a lot."

Posted by Checkpoint on Tuesday, 26 May 2020

"At that time I was staying in another hotel, which was just like a small room and I thought 'blow this, I'm not going to spend four weeks in a little room' so I moved to this hotel, and I've been here ever since.

"Hopefully there's going to be a repatriation flight to Vanuatu in the next few days. They're talking about it. Vanuatu has had its problems - Cyclone Harold, and it didn't have a government for a while."

Elphick's partner is in Port Vila. They work together in consulting.

"We're used to being apart but we're not used to being apart this long. I left home in January working, and hopefully I'll get back, God knows, I'm hoping next week. Then I've got another two weeks, of course, in Port Vila but at least it will be warm there."

Elphick has been able to do his own cooking, but was grateful when restaurants opened under level 2. His only problem being holed up is he's putting on a bit of weight - but he's trying to get out walking.

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He would not be surprised if any other hotel guests have been there as long as he has. The good news, he said, was his insurance company was covering his accommodation costs.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"The issue was about the flight which I booked in January, which was the return [journey], which was cancelled. So we just submitted a claim to the insurance company and within a very short time ... no more than a two weeks, the money was paid into the bank.

"They paid one half, and then when I get back they'll pick up the rest of the bill for the hotel. The hotel have been really good, they reduced the rate a bit."

Elphick has the days of his hotel stay marked on a piece of paper. His daughter wants him to keep the momento.

"There's not much I can do about it. People are very friendly. Radio New Zealand has been great ... I've been listening to it a lot.

"The only thing that really gets me annoyed, is the reference to the elderly, I'm 73 years old. And when I hear people talking about the elderly as if we're an infirm group I really get p***ed off, sorry about the language. I work all the time.

"But I am chilled, what can I do about it? We're in good hands, you get lots of good information. And I've got a beautiful view over the harbour and I get out walking."

He's looking forward to getting home to Port Vila, seeing his family and sitting down with a cool glass of wine outside.

"It's winter there at the moment so locals are complaining about it being cold. It's about 26C.

"So that's not bad really, for winter."