This week, the nation went into lockdown in a fight to save lives and stop the spread of covid-19.

The world can feel like a glum and gloomy place as we all take shelter in our homes and watch the ever increasing numbers of positive coronavirus test results announced.

But each day, there are some little gems that pop up, that might have got missed in the major news updates.

Each Friday over the next four weeks, the Herald Travel team is going to bring you a selection of some of the happier coronavirus-related travel stories, to help break up the doomsday vibes.

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#BringTomHome: Our travel writer finally made it back

A major celebration this week within the close-knit NZH Travel team was the safe return of Thomas Bywater to New Zealand soil.

Initially, we were all outrageously jealous of his cruise to Patagonia. Until he couldn't get off the ship due to protestors angry about Covid-19. Then the borders began shutting down and flights were cancelled. Each day seemed to bring a new challenge to #BringTomHome

Finally this week, he returned to New Zealand by the skin of his teeth, apologising profusely to the rest of our team as if it was somehow his fault he was trapped abroad.

It's a cracking yarn, and you can read it here

Quarantine with quokkas

If you have to go into lockdown, you might as well do it Aussie-style, with a bunch of quokkas (Google if you've never heard of one before - you wouldn't be the only one).

With nowhere to go, hundreds of Australian cruise passengers were this week planning to go into coronavirus lock-down on Rottnest island - which is famous for the cute marsupials.

Rottnest Island is known for its cute marsupials. Photo / Mark Stoop, on Unsplash
Rottnest Island is known for its cute marsupials. Photo / Mark Stoop, on Unsplash

The quokkas are fluffy, fearless mammals around the size of a teddy-bear and have thrived on the predator-free island.

Read the story here.

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The best of armchair escapism

Our reading list has grown significantly in the last week.

Simon Wilson has compiled some of the best books to get you through the lockdown.

"If you can't travel, you might as well read about places you never could travel to anyway, right?" he writes in this reading round-up here.

Go grab your Kindle and let us know what's first on your list.

Let the Matterhorn glow

The ski fields are closed, but Switzerland's famous Matterhorn is sending messages out to the nearby resorts.

Switzerland's Zermatt ski resort has begun light projections to the top of the Matterhorn, the famous pyramid-shaped peak that straddles Switzerland and Italy, as a way to show solidarity with all those affected by the pandemic.

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The light show on the Matterhorn aims to share a message of hope amidst the crisis. Photo / Zermatt Tourism
The light show on the Matterhorn aims to share a message of hope amidst the crisis. Photo / Zermatt Tourism

The projections include a giant light of #stayhome as well as #hope.

Read the story here.

The mother of all bad hair days

Can we take a minute to appreciate Yukon's annual hair freezing competition?

The Takhini Hot Springs in Whitehorse is holding its Hair Freezing Contest in northwest Canada. And what better way to spend our lockdown than to vote for the best do?

Frozen beards and icy hair can be contorted into wild shapes in this part of the Yukon. Photo / Supplied
Frozen beards and icy hair can be contorted into wild shapes in this part of the Yukon. Photo / Supplied

The warm outdoor baths and sub-zero temperatures provide the perfect conditions for creating strange and arresting shapes out of frozen hair and beards. While the pools are now closed to the public, voting is open until April 1st.

Temperatures in this part of the Yukon can dip as low as -12 Celsius, or -21 at night. This causes damp hair to freeze instantly into impressive frosted shapes.

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See more images here.

China started re-opening

A section of China's Great Wall has been reopened to visitors, in a sign that the country's tourism industry is cautiously recovering.

While the reopening has many obstacles, the measures could be adopted by other national landmarks in a post-virus world.

It will be open to visitors from 9am-4pm, but numbers will be strictly limited and controlled, so as to protect it from both from damage by tourists, and to prevent further spread of disease.

Read the full story here.

#FormalFriday became a thing

Bless Hilary Barry.

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Technically not a travel story, but she's a good egg and deserves a shout out. Because in times like these, we need a bit of a laugh and a reason to dress up.

Here is the story of how she got Twitter to dress up today.