Eight Kiwis previously stranded in South America are due to arrive back home this evening thanks to a charter flight.

Chimu Adventures chartered a LATAM aircraft to bring 136 Australians and eight New Zealanders home from where they were stuck in South America.

The flight landed in Sydney this morning, and the Kiwi passengers are due to transit from Sydney to Auckland on a flight departing midday. They are expected to arrive in Auckland at 5pm.

This is the second flight Chimu Adventures have recently chartered to help travellers stuck in South America return home during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Travellers in South America recently found themselves trapped when multiple countries closed their borders and enforced rapid lockdown laws in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

This meant many pre-booked international flights were cancelled, leaving people unsure how to get home.

"These responsive border situations also caused issues for Chimu Adventures' charter cruise on the MV Ocean Atlantic," said co-founder of Chimu Adventures, Greg Carter.

"This ship was returning from Antarctica and due to disembark passengers in Puerto Madryn, in Argentina, on the 21st of March 2020. New restrictions meant that port authorities in Puerto Madryn would not allow passengers to disembark there.

"We quite literally found ourselves in uncharted waters, in this unprecedented time, as we entered a long process of navigating multiple governments and restrictions in a bid to get our travellers home.

"Multiple ports in Argentina would not allow us to disembark and commercial flight options for New Zealand and Australian travellers to return to home rapidly vanished.

"In the end our only option was dock in Montevideo and try to charter a plane to get Kiwis and Australians home from Uruguay."

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


The travellers were given a clean bill of health by medical professionals, Carter said.

"Chartering a commercial aircraft to transit international borders, when you are not an airline, is not easy at the best of times. Let alone during a pandemic.

"Working with wildly fluctuating currency dollar rates, ever changing travel and border restrictions, lawyers, insurance companies, governments, airport and port authorities, made piecing the jigsaw together incredibly difficult.

"As we processed and thought we had everything in place, another obstacle would arise which saw our goal posts shift frequently. We are so relieved, after working around the clock for two weeks, that the flight is finally under way."

Chimu Adventures' Rachel Williams said they were still trying to help other Kiwis who are stuck.

"We are willing and able to further assist, via our own operations network on the ground in South America, should that be required by the airlines or the New Zealand Government."


One woman who didn't make it on to the flight home was Te Puke mother Emma Huamash Bejarano.

Huamash Bejarano has been trapped in Peru away from her husband and two daughters.

She went to Peru in January to visit her mother and extended family after a tragic explosion killed three of her family members.

Husband Lawrence Charles said Huamash Bejarano had not been contacted about the Chimu Adventures flight, and is still hoping to find a way home.

At this stage she is scheduled to fly home in early May, if the flight is not cancelled.

A flight taking German tourists home from New Zealand is due to leave Auckland this afternoon.


About 15,000 Germans and other Europeans are currently stranded in New Zealand.