A Kiwi couple are trapped in the Galapagos islands off the coast of Ecuador due to the global Covid-19 lockdown with the virus now spreading across the archipelago.

Hamilton couple Catherine and Jol Glyde are in a similar position to thousands of Kiwis stuck in locations across the globe, with most countries going into lockdown and borders closing up to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

But their situation is particularly precarious, with few medical facilities on the World Heritage islands and cases of the virus being confirmed there in the past few days.

""We are very nervous - we hope we can get out," Catherine Glyde told the Herald.


The archipelago of volcanic islands lie just over 900km to the west of Ecuador.

English naturalist, biologist and geologist Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution after studying endemic species in the Galapagos islands.

Hamilton couple Jol and Catherine Glyde are stuck in the Galapagos islands amid the global Covid-19 lockdown. Photo / Supplied
Hamilton couple Jol and Catherine Glyde are stuck in the Galapagos islands amid the global Covid-19 lockdown. Photo / Supplied

Test results from Monday established four permanent residents had contracted the Covid-19 disease after returning to the islands from the port of Guayaquil, the worst affected city in Ecuador with more than half of its 1200 confirmed cases.

There are limited spaces on the few flights leaving the island to the mainland cities of Quito and Guayaquil, where the political situation is becoming increasingly unstable.

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But while other trapped travellers from countries including the Netherlands, Germany, United States and Spain have been able to travel on home through Government-charted flights, the same is not being offered for New Zealanders or Australians.

"We just don't know what to do. Do we stay on Galapagos where it is safe-ish or do we take a flight to the mainland if offered one?

"The mainland seems a lit more dangerous but if any flights do come at least we are there.


"In Galapagos if we get sick there isn't a lot if medical help or facilities.

"If we have to fly and be in airports we also might get the virus. Our minds are always spinning."

Last week Foreign Minister Winston Peters said all New Zealanders needed to get home before the "window of opportunity" closed and borders shut down.

But for many, there never was a window.

"For him to say that, well we never had a chance to get back."

The Glydes, in their mid-50s, started their South American adventure on January 4 in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, when the world had barely heard of Covid-19.

They started a five-day cruise in the Galapagos islands on March 13, when again there was little worry where they were about the virus.

But just as they began, the global situation progressed rapidly, and after only a day at sea they returned to the island of Santa Cruz - where there was an airport - but by then there was no way of them getting out of the country commercially with a countrywide lockdown in place by March 15.

On Tuesday, despite earlier saying the Government was looking into "mercy flights" for Kiwis stuck overseas, Peters said those abroad needed to now "shelter in place".

For some, there have been the options of private charters - but with quotes as high as A$10,000 - just to get to Australia - for most it has been out of the question.

And those have only been offered from main centres such as the Peruvian capital of Lima, not for those stuck in remote areas.

For now the Glydes are stuck in their hotel on the island, with a 2pm curfew in place, and are only allowed out to the supermarket.

"In a positive note the hotel guests are all in same boat and we support each other. The hotel staff have also been very accommodating, allowing us to cook in the kitchen."

There is potentially a space on a flight on Friday to the mainland, but from there they have no idea about their fate.

"We are all happy to pay [to get back to New Zealand]. We just want to get home to be with our kids, Carl, 25, and Louise, 24.

"We can't understand how other countries have come in with empty planes and taken their citizens home - Germany, the Netherlands, United States and Spain.

"We are happy to pay our way, we want to pay. If other countries can come in, why can't New Zealand and Australia get together and pick us up?"

Meanwhile, nearly 100 Kiwis are stuck in neighbouring Peru, which has been in lockdown since March 16, and are desperate to get home with very limited commercial options available.

A petition has been launched to raise awareness about their plight.

Meanwhile other countries have made plans to repatriate their citizens.

There are plans in place to fly 400 British and Irish citizens home next week, and Canada is sending three planes to the Andean nation to repatriate its stranded citizens.

Stranded Israeli backpackers were flown home by their government free of charge, Haaretz reported.

Today it was announced national carrier Air New Zealand had been contracted by the German government to charter flights to return its citizens from Canada.

New Zealanders overseas have been advised to seek consular assistance, register their details on SafeTravel, and review the website regularly for the most up to date advice for New Zealanders overseas.

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