Spanish tourist Shandra Gutierrez and her Belgian fiance Gianni Vanneste were walking the Heaphy Track when they heard that New Zealand was going into lockdown.
The couple had got engaged on the Tongariro Circuit. Gutierrez had just found out she was pregnant, with a baby due in October.
"A helicopter came and told us the country was going into lockdown in 48 hours," she said. "We were really surprised."
They knew about the pandemic, of course, which has now killed more than 30,000 people including about 6000 in Spain.
"I lost an aunt of my mother, and hopefully her cousin just got out of intensive care so she's getting better. It's a tough moment for any family, and I want to be as close as possible," Gutierrez said.
"The ranger told us the first night in the hut, 'From tomorrow on they won't allow anyone else to start the hike, but they will let you finish.'
"So there were not so many people on the track. There were 10 people in our hut. They took the people to the first hut and from there we had to walk."
The couple had left their car at the Karamea end of the track and arranged to pick it up from the Takaka end, but when they had to get out in a hurry the car was not there yet and they had to wait for it.
When it finally arrived, they started a desperate dash to get to Auckland, where they had tickets to fly home on Emirates on March 28.
"We managed to get to the ferry [at Picton] at 2am, and drove that night, after only an hour and a half's sleep on the ferry, for eight hours to get to Auckland before the lockdown," Gutierrez said.
"Then we tried to find an Airbnb. 'I'm pregnant, we need a place to stay please.' And we didn't find anything.
"We tried 10 Airbnbs. Hopefully, there was a Spanish guy that offered us a room in his place for free - really charity. If he hadn't, we would have been on the street."
The man, who works in Auckland, offered the room through an online chat group of Spanish people affected by the lockdown.
"He didn't ask for anything," Gutierrez said. "He's a guy with a huge heart, it's thanks to him we have a place to stay."
But now, like thousands of other visitors who were here when the lockdown struck, they are stranded.
Emirates suddenly stopped services to New Zealand on March 26 after its home base in Dubai closed its borders.
"They never told us officially that it was cancelled," Gutierrez said.
"Now they are saying the options are a voucher, but we can't use it because the company is not flying again until June or July. Otherwise they want to give us US$100, that's only the fees of the airports. It's ridiculous."
Vanneste, 31, is an energy engineer and Gutierrez, 30, is a biomedical engineer who is due to start a new job in Belgium in two weeks.
They could afford a New Zealand holiday, but they can't afford $11,800 to $12,600 for business-class seats which are now the only seats available on one of the last airlines still flying to Europe, Qatar Airways, on most days up to April 12.
"It was a trip that we saved for a while for," Gutierrez said. "We recently bought a house so we thought this was the last trip we are going to do."
Actually the couple feel that they are "the lucky ones". Many other visitors in their chat group are still stuck in the South Island unable to get to any flight out of Auckland because domestic flights, buses, trains, ferries, rental cars, taxis and ride-share drivers are all restricted to essential services only.
The German Government had planned rescue flights for Germans and other Europeans but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suspended the flights on Friday until decisions are made by tomorrow (March 31) about how to get people to them without risking a further spread of
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke to Foreign Minister Winston Peters over the weekend about ways to rescue British people from NZ and New Zealanders from Britain.
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The United States embassy said ambassador Scott Brown had also "reached out" to Peters to resolve the issue.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson said it was "working on a framework by which all repatriation flights will be considered".
"Until then no repatriation flights should occur. The one exception is a Lufthansa flight which departed Auckland for Frankfurt Saturday morning, as the plane was already on the ground in New Zealand when these decisions were made," the ministry said.
"We are aware that these are strict measures, however New Zealand's overarching objective is to stop the spread of Covid-19 so as to save lives."
Meanwhile the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said it had received 192 registrations and placed 113 people into temporary accommodation by Sunday (March 29).
Anyone needing accommodation during the lockdown can ring 0508 754 163.
"There is a cost for temporary accommodation and we will work with each individual who uses the service about how to meet this cost," the ministry says.
• Official lockdown site: covid19.govt.nz.