A Dunedin man stranded in Argentina says his ordeal has been "an emotional roller coaster".

Ryan Houston is stuck in a hotel, desperately trying to find a way to get home to New Zealand.

He was the first mate on expedition vessel Australis, which was on a trip with Natural History NZ to document the effects of climate change in the Antarctic.

That was cut short when the Covid-19 pandemic began to worsen.


"'The world is shutting down, come home'. Interesting news to receive in a very isolated place," he said.

The crew arrived back on Tierra del Fuego on March 26.

Dr David Hepburn from Royal Gwent Hospital explains how a person can die from coronavirus. Video / Channel 4 News

They started to make preparations to leave the country, before learning the airport had closed and there would be no flights out.

Then a rumour of a flight on April 1 began circulating.

"The wheels were starting to turn, and a way home looked possible."

They made their way to the airport, and were told the flight would be on a Hercules and the Argentine Government was running it.

A plane, but not a Hercules, landed, but took on only Argentine nationals.

A couple of hours later, a Hercules landed at the airport but later took off again without passengers.


"We've now been put up in a hotel, with no future flights off the island planned, and the border crossings into Chile and onward across on to mainland South America not possible," Houston said.

"We have heard nothing about organised flights out or border crossings being open, at any stage."

It had been an emotional roller coaster, he said.

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"The situation could be much worse, so we are all thankful that we are in the position we're in.

"However, it could change any minute."