To stay or go home. Thousands of Kiwis have fled back to New Zealand and Rotorua is no exception. The pandemic has sent shockwaves around the world and Carmen Hall talks to two women on different sides of the fence.
Expats at Home
Covid called Kaitlyn Agnew home to Rotorua after she spent three months solo travelling to 15 countries in 2019 and a further six months in London working for a global exhibition business.
''As Covid hit, the industry was impacted significantly which left a lot of uncertainty around job security ... just when I had found my feet and started settling in to a new place.'
''I didn't want to accept what might come of it and how it could impact my time in the UK. As Covid began to worsen and the red dots on my TV screen showed more of the world being impacted, London started to turn into chaos.''
She flew home in March ''even though I had my mind set on staying as my visa and journey abroad had only just begun''.
That decision did not come without challenges but now Agnew had secured a job at Novotel Rotorua as a conference sales co-ordinator and is ''loving it''.
''I feel so grateful to have a job that I am passionate about and work with an inspiring team. I have been able to apply a broad set of skills to the role, as well as learn so many new skills.''
Future travel plans are also on the horizon when international borders open.
''Travelling helped me grow so much as a person, to step out of my comfort zone and experience new things. There is a world out there rich in culture, cuisine and incredible people.''
Moana McRae has lived overseas for about seven years and recently moved from Dubai to the Bodrum Peninsula in Turkey - due to Covid.
The 37-year-old from Rotorua says she misses her family and friends and Squiggles and Whittaker's chocolate and kina.
The former travel consultant says fortunately she lives away from larger cities so it is less busy but Covid precautions are still in place.
''We wear masks when in public places such as the markets, taxis and public transport. Social distancing is followed and most shops, restaurants have sanitiser, wipes and signage.
''Our region is popular for tourists, especially Brits, so initially there were a load of people from the UK but now that Turkey was added to their quarantine list the numbers have dropped significantly.''
In saying that there's a lot of expats that have settled here until the situation improves.
''We met a couple from US and Canada who came here to escape for a bit.''
Meanwhile, running circuits of her carpark each day and clocking up the kilometres running past parked cars became the norm during lockdown.
Now McRae is back jogging the highways and byways and says one thing that has stood out has been the street dogs and cats.
''Most mornings I'll be followed by eight or nine beautiful dogs that are well looked after by locals. And the people are so accommodating and hospitable ... and being around nature reminds me of home.''
Being abroad at the moment suits her lifestyle but Rotorua is never far from her mind.
''As soon as travel restrictions ease up I'll be back for sure, Rotorua is my home. We're so fortunate to have so much in our beautiful city. My dream job is anything to do with travel.''