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Stranded in New Zealand During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This is Alberta’s story.  Alberta traveled to New Zealand in late December 2019 expecting to return home to Port Huron by late March 2020.  Fortunately, Alberta arranged GeoBlue travel health insurance through Grant Smith Health Insurance before starting on her journey.  Of course, by the time Alberta was scheduled to return to the States, the coronavirus pandemic had begun and it became very risky for her to travel.  She made the decision to remain in Wadestown, Wellington, New Zealand with her daughter and son-in-law.  Alberta was able to “bank” her airline tickets into September 2020, extend her visitors Visa into September 2020, and extend her travel health insurance through GeoBlue until late June 2020 allowing her coverage to see the doctors and obtain medications she needed.  (Late June 2020 was the maximum length of time available on the particular GeoBlue travel health insurance policy that Alberta had purchased.  If she needs coverage beyond that point, there are options available!)  Alberta now had the peace of mind that she had things under control for a while and could continue to enjoy her time across the globe.  Let’s see what Alberta has been up to!


It has been very pleasant enjoying summer, now fall, and soon to be winter here in New Zealand.  My daughter and I have gone to the Zoo twice, first in a general visit, and second on an “up close and personal visit” with the Meerkats.  That last visit was quite fun!  I’ve done a lot of daily walking in the Wadestown neighborhood plus indoor exercises, making me feel a lot better than when I left in December. I was using a “Rollator” or a wheelchair during the travel and when I arrived, but after a short while, I no longer needed it. We did a few day trips through January and February around the area.

My daughter, her husband, and I took a trip to Sydney, Australia, in the first week of March. The impetus for the trip was to see 2 maps by Captain James Cook of harbours in Newfoundland, Canada, including one of St. John’s. My late husband, my daughter, and I lived for 28 years in St. John’s. Captain Cook did the first detailed mapping of the island Of Newfoundland and some off the coast of Labrador. This effort on his part landed him the trips for which he later became very famous in the South Pacific.  During those trips, he also did the first detailed mapping of the islands of New Zealand.  The harbour maps are in the State Library of New South Wales that also has a collection of Cook’s South Pacific travels, among which, the Newfoundland maps ended up. My career was spent among maps, so this was a real treat for me.  We also did a lot of shopping and sightseeing from our conveniently located hotel among crowds and crowds of people.  We arrived back just before the Lockdown, but my daughter’s workplace closed early due to passengers from the cruise ship Ruby Princess that had visited Te Papa, the National Museum, on March 14th.  A few days later, the coronavirus became rampant on that ship as it arrived in Australia.  

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We have experienced the Level 4, Lockdown, with its self-isolation and staying at home, except for a walk around the neighbourhood, getting some items via delivery by pickup with my daughter being the primary grocery shopper for those 5 weeks, and my daughter and husband both working from home via computer with Zoom conference calls with colleagues.  Then we went to Level 3, Restrict, which did not bring much change for me, but I did have a doctor’s appointment toward the end of it.  Now, in Level 2, Risk, it seems almost back to normal, though I have not been out among a lot of people except while getting my hair “done” on May 20th in Wellington and doing errands here in Waikanae.  I must admit, it makes me a little nervous, especially when we went to a mall!  It will be interesting to see what happens by the end of the 2 weeks.

In the meantime, I shall just enjoy the opportunity to spend more time with my daughter than I have since she was in high school.  I keep in touch with my sister and nephew in Port Huron via Video and text Messenger and most others by either text Messenger or emails.  They are OK, but restrict their outside activities yet and get groceries and other food delivered. My brother is also pretty much staying at home.  His cats keep him busy!  

My return is not yet known. So much will have changed by then, I feel sure.  We have missed our plays at the Stratford Festival and are sad about the season being cancelled altogether.  It is a great loss not only to the Festival, its playgoers, and its actors but also to the community of Stratford.  

The photo above is of Alberta contemplating the maps in the sumptuous Reading Room of the State Library of New South Wales.

A very special thank you to Alberta for sharing her experiences during these unprecedented times. If you have a story to share, email us! Send your stories and photos to karrie@gbsmediapro.com.

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