Coronavirus: Stranded Bristol journalist back from New Zealand

Tony GoslingImage copyright Tony Gosling
Image caption Tony Gosling assumed he might not make it home for months because of restrictions

A journalist from Bristol who was stranded in New Zealand due to coronavirus restrictions has returned home.

Tony Gosling, 58, was visiting family in Auckland in February and tried to book multiple flights home.

“It was so frustrating not knowing when we’d get home, every time we booked that route was closed down,” he said.

“We had half-planned to ask my relatives for jobs to do so we could earn our keep while stranded.”

The radio presenter for BCFM, a community station in Bristol, initially booked with Air Canada via Vancouver, which closed to passengers.

He then unsuccessfully tried to return via Singapore, and Los Angeles, before flying to Heathrow via Qatar.

“The uncertainty was horrible, as my wife’s parents are both ill in care homes and we needed to be back to look after them.”

Image copyright Tony Gosling
Image caption So few flights were leaving Auckland that the departure boards had a weeks’ worth of flights on them

“The long flight from Auckland to Qatar was rammed, on the basis there are hardly any cases there, but we were more spaced out coming back to the UK.

“The terminal in Auckland was empty save for a lonely bird.”

On arrival in Heathrow Mr Gosling found similar scenes to Auckland.

“Nobody was hanging around in arrivals, only two people were on my train to Paddington.”

Image copyright Tony Gosling
Image caption Heathrow underground station was nearly deserted

Mr Gosling is now pursuing his tour operator for a refund for the £5,000 he paid but has so far only been offered a credit voucher.

“As nice as New Zealand was, on an emotional level it’s definitely lovely to be back home again.”

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