A Kiwi family who spent the past six weeks packing up their lives in the Gold Coast are now stuck in limbo after the Government announced the airline would not be taking any more bookings for flights for the next three weeks to manage quarantine levels.
Dylan Little's partner and two children were due to board a flight on Saturday and Little and his mother were staying a few more days to tie up loose ends before following them back to Tauranga.
The family of five had already given notice on their rental property, had their belongings in boxes and are now going to have to move in with relatives while they wait for another flight out.
The 36-year-old has been living in Australia for 10 years, but said after losing his job as a glazier and not being entitled to any government subsidy schemes the family had no choice but to leave.
The couple had been able to access their superannuation early but that had also run out.
Little said it was virtually impossible to get work in Australia at the moment as companies were laying people off, not employing people.
"It's a battle over here to get any work now."
Little said he was the first in his extended family to make the decision to come home six weeks ago. They had also pulled their children, aged 12 and 7, out of school.
However he said packing up your life didn't happen overnight and as an added complication he also had to pay off a child support debt in Australia before he was allowed to leave the country.
He had just had the travel ban related to the debt revoked when the Government put a halt on incoming flights.
Little said the announcement had come as a shock to them and the first indication they had was when his partner received an email from Air New Zealand last night notifying them that their flights had been cancelled.
"I was ready to be on that plane this Saturday but now we've been told no, there's nothing - we can't help you out until the end of July."
They then watched the announcement this morning and knew they would have to wait at least another three weeks until they could get back.
He was also due to start a new job in Tauranga as a forklift operator at the start of August.
"I had to ring them up and say 'man I don't know if I have let you down, but I can't make it back now.'"
Little followed the Government's advice and contacted the New Zealand embassy in Brisbane, but was told just to re-book another flight.
"We are pretty gutted."
Meanwhile Nelson man Tom McKay can't believe he only just missed out on being able to return back to New Zealand after the rules changed overnight.
McKay moved to Sydney in February to work as a project engineer on Sydney's new M5 Westconnex 9km tunnel and complete project management studies.
His job ended last week and he made the big decision yesterday to return home. He had planned to book a flight today and is now stuck.
The father-of-two had worked out that if he booked the next available flight - July 21 - he would have time to carry out the two weeks' isolation period - and also make it home in time for his daughter's birthday.
McKay had started looking for work in New Zealand, but said he would now have to start looking in Australia again.
However, he was pragmatic about the situation and knew there were others in much worse situations than him.
He had also seen first-hand the effects of Covid on friends and was pleased the New Zealand Government was taking it seriously. One of his friends had died from it and others had been left so out of breath that they were unable to speak on the phone.
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