More than 300 yachts are stuck in limbo across the South Pacific as cyclone season nears, barred from berthing in New Zealand because of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Ocean Cruising Club (OCC) says it has written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Chris Hipkins several times lobbying for help, but there has been no solution to date.
The group says the developing situation has reached a crisis point and crews on the yachts urgently need refuge from the cyclone season starting on November 1.
Fiona Jones, the OCC Indo-Pacific co-ordinator, said she was desperate to find a solution for the crews in the Pacific.
"My husband and I sailed our yacht into New Zealand in 2006 and we were welcomed everywhere we went," she said.
"The hospitality shown to us in remote areas of South Island and Stewart Island will never be forgotten."
Since then, two of their children and six grandchildren had become New Zealand citizens.
"None of us wants Covid-19 cases brought into New Zealand."
Guy Chester, OCC Roving Rear Commodore said they had been working with the Marina Operators Association and Sail South Pacific to ensure Covid-19 safe protocols could be in place for arriving yachts.
"With two to six-week passages, crews have been in quarantine for that time anyway.
"They are prepared to self-isolate aboard their yachts once they enter New Zealand and have an agreed protocol to ensure there is minimal risk to the New Zealand community."
John Martin, of Sail South Pacific, has been working with Northland marinas to ensure self-isolation aboard could be undertaken safely.
Martin was arranging the Destination NZ rescue to co-ordinate staggered arrivals of the flotilla from French Polynesia and Fiji if New Zealand provides exemptions.
"Yachts accept they need to have strict quarantine and medical records while at sea and to satellite track their route to prove their continuity of passage (thus quarantine time)," Martin said.
According to the Ministry of Health website, foreign vessels are not permitted to arrive in the country unless they have an exemption.
A vessel may also be exempt if director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has granted permission based on humanitarian reasons or other compelling needs.
"For clarity, humanitarian reasons or other compelling needs would be unlikely to include situations relating solely to financial loss, or to vessels travelling primarily for pleasure or convenience such as tourists or 'wintering over'," the website reads.
"People in vessels travelling to New Zealand to 'winter over' (e.g. to avoid hurricane/cyclone season in the Pacific) may have other genuine humanitarian reasons or other compelling needs for coming, which would need to be demonstrated in order for these vessels to qualify for an exemption."