Coronavirus: Irish couple stranded in NZ ‘totally in limbo’

Pair are struggling to return home following advice to self-isolate and flight restrictions

An Irish couple stranded in New Zealand have said they have been left "totally in limbo" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lynn Boland (26), from Kilkenny, and partner Oisín (25), from Dublin, have been living in Wellington since last April on a working holiday visa, which is due to expire at the end of next month.

Ms Boland resigned from her job last week after her partner lost his job, and the couple had decided to return to Ireland.

However, Ms Boland was informed she was in contact with a person who potentially had coronavirus and that she and her partner should self-isolate. Ms Boland cancelled flights they had booked home for last Sunday.


The couple were informed on Monday [yesterday] the person had tested negative for the virus and they were free to travel back to Ireland. However, they have been unable to secure flights home.

“There’s literally no flights, any flights are either crazy prices or there’s a lot of confusion about where you can transit through,” Ms Boland told The Irish Times.

“Basically the only transit area that we can still see as open is the US. We applied for ESTAs [visas]; they were granted but then there are no flights.”

Ms Boland said she has been in touch with the Irish embassy in New Zealand who told them if it was viable to stay put there.

According to Ms Boland, the Irish embassy contacted them again on Tuesday and said the couple will not be left stranded in New Zealand, that it is working with the NZ government and that the Government’s main priority “is to be here to support you”.

“We don’t know how long we’ll be stuck here for. Both of us are out of jobs. New Zealand goes into full lockdown from tomorrow, which means that all non-essential businesses are closed,” Ms Boland added.

“The only thing that’s open is GPs, supermarkets and pharmacies. New Zealand has announced care packages for its citizens who have become recently unemployed but we’re not a resident or a citizen of New Zealand, we’re temporary working holiday visas.”

Ms Boland said while she understands these are "unprecedented times", clarity is needed from the Irish Government about contingency plans or repatriation for Irish citizens who are are stuck abroad.

“If we have to stay in New Zealand until commercial flights are back up and running at a steady pace . . . what supports are there for us to maintain our rent, our food supply, being able to support ourselves essentially,” she said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times