Two Rotorua aged-care workers who were facing lockdown in a car in Picton as they struggled to find a way home now have a glimmer of hope.

The Government announced yesterday it would extend the deadline for travel to Friday, and Interislander staff are now rushing to get people home.

Zinnie Sadler and her mother headed down south last week for a three-week holiday.
Sadler had been keeping a close watch on the Covid-19 response and made the call over the weekend to cut the trip short and head home when the Government announced New Zealand was at alert level 2.

The pair quickly drove to Picton, listening to the news of a pending lockdown on their way up.

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Once they arrived at the South Island gateway, the chaos of the situation hit them.

Caravans, cars, boats and all types of vehicles were queued as far as they could see hoping to get a place on the "sold-out ferry" before sailings stopped tomorrow.

Sadler checked into accommodation in Picton that the pair could "hardly afford", hoping to get the ferry back this morning.

They headed to the terminal at 5.30am yesterday to be told at 6am the ferry was full.

"It hit us. We are stuck here."

Their money drying up, the pair were set to sleep in their car.

Sadler had been on the phone to the Covid-19 helpline, who told her they had "no other options" as travel shut down across the country.


"All ferries will be stopped for four weeks. What does that mean for us?"

Supermarket shelves were clearing out as people hunkered down and she feared for the next few weeks, she said.

However, travel staff were now working to get those stranded back home.

KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller announced yesterday that they would carry passengers on the Interislander ferries until midnight on Friday.

Passengers were a priority, but people needed to apply social distancing principles in their terminals and on the ferries, he said.

"We appreciate the need for people to get home before entering self-isolation, and the extra two days' sailing will allow us to move an additional 3000 people in each direction."