Updated: Apr 23, 2020
We are still travelling full time, but now with a twist – a Covid-19 twist which we did not see coming at all a few months back. Like most other full-time travelers around the world we have had to change our plans. What does that mean for us and how have it effected our future plans? Read on and find out how we have dealt with it.
Let’s just scroll back a few months first. We had just left Singapore in mid-January after 4 ½ months of traveling in South East Asia. We had of course heard about Covid-19 in China, but it wasn’t on our radar as something that would turn our travel life upside down.
Arriving in Perth, Australia we felt more relaxed that we have at any point during our travels, and we did honestly not worry about it at all. At this time, we were focused on all the enormous and devastating bushfires in Australia and what that meant for our plans ahead. We ended up traveling in Australia for 6 weeks, and it was only towards the end of those six weeks (end of February) that Covid-19 started to become an issue in Australia. We were staying right in the heart of Chinatown in Sydney, and with more and more people wearing facemasks now, it became clear that it was getting closer.
Not All Passengers Allowed to Board
We flew to New Zealand early March, and at our 2 am arrival in the Christchurch airport, we were all being asked individually of our current health status. Had we been feeling unwell recently? Any dry cough, etc.? Also, there was even a guy at check-in in Sydney who wasn’t allowed to board the flight, as he very clearly wasn’t feeling well. Ok, it was obvious that they did what they could in New Zealand, to try to stay clear of that Covid-19 virus.
We started our New Zealand adventure by exploring the South Island in the motorhome. We were completely breathtaken by the incredible nature experiences we got everywhere we went. One thing that immediately became clear to us, was the fact that we could really stay to ourselves, even though, we met lots of other travelers. In particularly travelers in small campervans and other motorhomes, as this is such an awesome way to explore this country.
All Danes back to Denmark
Making it to Queenstown, Adrenaline capital of the world, mid-March we now started to see hand sanitizer in every single store and place we went to, and it was impossible to buy anywhere – sold out! By then, we became extra happy to be in New Zealand, as it was so easy to stay to ourselves and not engage with other people. At the same time, we received information from the Danish Foreign Ministry, that all Danes should travel back to Denmark as soon as possible. We might be Danish, but since we don’t have a home in Denmark after having lived the last 10 years abroad, it just didn’t make sense for us to travel back to Denmark. We decided to stay in New Zealand. We also felt a lot safer here, as the number of Covid-19 incidents was still very low, compared to basically everywhere else.
Keeping to Ourselves
There is so much open space here in New Zealand, that it’s easy to not meet more than a couple of people in one day if even any. This was just how we wanted it at this time. We were exploring beautiful nature and eating all of our meals in our motorhome. We were doing hikes in remote areas and simply keeping to ourselves in New Zealand’s stunning nature.
Shouldn’t You Be in Quarantine?
By then mid/end March, we started to experience what many Asians have experienced for months by now. If we met some locals, they would immediately ask us when we arrived in New Zealand, questioning if we shouldn’t be self-quarantining, as it had now been imposed on all travelers arriving to New Zealand. Since we arrived 3 weeks prior to that rule, we were fine to continue our travels. But it wasn’t just the questions. People would pull up their facemask immediately when approached by us – it was clear that the locals saw us foreigners as potential carriers of the virus – and rightly so. Not that we had it, but the virus was obviously brought here by travelers as well as locals returning to NZ.
48 Hours’ Notice
After a couple of weeks in our motorhome, and a 3 day “city break” in Christchurch we rented another motorhome, at the end of March, to explore the rest of the South Island. Two days after picking up the new motorhome, we got news of New Zealand moving from level two on the Covid-19 scale to Level four. This meant a complete lockdown of the country – everyone staying at home and only supermarket and pharmacies allowed open. What to do? We quickly had to make a lot of decisions. Should we stay New Zealand or go somewhere else, while we had the chance? Should we stay in the motorhome? What about our flight tickets to the US on April 1st? What about the motorhome and the money we had already paid for it? Where were we going to stay?
Where to Go, How and When?
The news hit me hard and I needed a good night’s sleep to cope with it. Martin, however, remained completely calm, being the rock that he always is. The next morning, we made all decisions, as we were driving the 5 hours back to Christchurch to return our motorhome. We wanted to spend the four-week Lockdown in Nelson up on the northern part of the South Island – we had heard it was beautiful and sunny there. The motorhome that we returned, went directly into a four-week quarantine (incl. our garbage!!). After many phone calls, we finally managed to find a car rental place that was willing to rent us a car that same day, as most rental offices were already closing down for the Lockdown. We got the car and drove back up along the coast – it was our third time on the same 5 hours stretch in 2 days. It was, however, one of the most beautiful coastal drives we have done in our lives, so we just enjoyed it. During a 10-minute driving break, we even spotted 50-100 dolphins playing in the ocean right in front of us. Just this kind of experience we needed at this point of time.
Would We Make it?
We pulled into Nelson ½ an hour before we needed to return the car, as everything was shutting down. We did a turbo grocery shopping, as it turned out our new home was a few km. away from the supermarket and up on a hill… like in a seriously steep hill, and we obviously had absolutely nothing. But we made it to Nelson, managed our serious grocery shopping, and dropped off all of our luggage and groceries, before Martin rushed off to return the car… only a couple of minutes late.
Our eyes almost fell out of our heads when we entered our new Lockdown home. Sure, we had seen the pictures online, and Martin had spent a long time negotiating a price that fit our travel budget, but we were not expecting this. The house was beautiful, much bigger and brighter than expected, but what surprised us the most was the incredible view. Overlooking the bay in Nelson and looking straight across the water to Abel Tasman National Park. What a place! We felt pretty confident going into our four-week Lockdown that this would be quite alright for us.
After a couple of days into the Lockdown, we cancelled our flight tickets to the US and even got a full return on the money. We also realized that our plans of traveling the US and Canada for two months after New Zealand probably won’t happen as planned. We haven’t planned for anything else. Right now, we think that we might end up travelling to Denmark from New Zealand, but as always, we don’t plan much, which we also haven’t done in this situation.
The future is quite difficult to predict at the moment, and there is a minor detail – there don’t seem to be any commercial flights out of New Zealand until after May 31st. So we'll just stay here for now and enjoy our full-time travel break doing all the things that we haven't had time to or be able to for the last 8 months. Not too bad...
If you are curious as to what we do, how our travel life has changed for us and what a day in a fulltime traveling family looks like during the Covid-19 Lockdown in New Zealand… have a click right here and continue the story.