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      Australia, New Zealand and a Lockdown With Consequences…
      May 29, 2020

      Australia, New Zealand and a Lockdown With Consequences…

      Enjoy the freedom to leave everyday life behind for a while and to arrange the days together with the family in such a way that they will remain in our memories for a long time. That was the goal of our sabbatical and our trip 1 year around the world.

      In Australia we could really enjoy our freedom. We decided quite spontaneously to travel to Australia. We chose Brisbane only because we know an old classmate of Frauke who emigrated there with his family. We spend an extraordinary Christmas and New Year’s Eve and enjoy the great Australian hospitality. Did you know that the Australian Santa Claus does not distribute presents with reindeer but with kangaroos in front of the sleigh? In the Aussie version of “Jingle Bells” they sing “Dashing through the bush” instead of “…snow”. I love the Australian humor.

      After a nice time in Brisbane we drive along the east coast by different means of transport (rental car, public transport, taxi): Golden Coast, Sunshine Coast, Frazor Island, Mackay, Airlee Beach. We cover a distance of almost 1.200 km. Spread over several weeks we continue to take the freedom of travelling slowly. So, we can make encounters of a special kind for example in Mackay. Here we lived privately for a few days with a family that has been travelling around the world for several years and is currently making a stop in Australia. Until then we only knew the “Familie auf Weltreise” from TV reports and social media. When we contacted them, they spontaneously invited us to their home. It was exciting to get to know a completely different concept of life and to get an insight into the everyday life of a family that has its focus entirely on family and its online business.

      The Australian summer and the beautiful beaches, the coral reefs, the sea and the general surfer feeling let us relax more and more every day. If Asia still seemed exhausting to our family at one point or another, we can relax here and enjoy being together even more.

      In the South of Australia

      This feeling also continues in the south of Australia, which we reach by plane. We spend several weeks in and around Melbourne. We take the liberty to spend some time in different places. The personal highlight for me as a tennis player is the Australian Open. But also, the drive along the Great Ocean Road and the encounters with koalas, kangaroos, dolphins and seals provide us with so many wonderful memories.

      We spend the last days in Australia with a Conti family. Similar to us, the Eike family is on a sabbatical, travelling around the world and was at the same time in the area of Melbourne. We make an appointment and live together in a house for a few days. The children enjoy new playmates and we enjoy the conversations with other adults.

      Very nice weeks in Australia are behind us and even more beautiful ones should follow on our next stop in New Zealand.

      New Zealand Adventure

      We rent a camper to have even more freedom to explore the nature of New Zealand. We have already seen many breathtaking landscapes in the months before, but the diverse nature of New Zealand impresses us even more! This incredible vastness, these colors, the beautiful mountains sometimes make us doubt if this is real or just a painting. It is difficult to make a place stand out. So, we travel through the South Island of New Zealand. We stay where we like it and move on when the next place attracts us.

      But then the lockdown comes…

      Already a few days before there are signs that the spread of the corona virus Covid19 will not pass New Zealand by. The news from Europe finally caused New Zealand to close its borders very early and declare „alert level 4“. For camper tourists this meant that within two days they had to go to a campsite which they were not allowed to leave for the next 4 weeks until they left the country.


      We went to a campsite near Christchurch, unsure how to proceed. Commercial flights were fully booked or cancelled by the airline. At the same time, we were locked in the campsite, only for doctor- and supermarket- visits it was allowed to leave the campsite. The sanitary facilities of the campground were closed due to the danger of infection, we only had the toilet and shower of our camper.

      The freedom we enjoyed so much during our trip was taken away from us from one day to the next. It’s a strange feeling. Glimmers of hope in this time are the people around us. Together with the campsite operator and other camper-tourists from different countries, a community was formed which supported and encouraged each other when necessary. Also, many friends and colleagues contacted us, who followed us in their mind on our journey and now asked how we are doing.

      Happy End

      Finally, our salvation was a plane from the German Foreign Office. The complete lockdown in New Zealand had indeed completely paralyzed air traffic to and from New Zealand, so the German Foreign Office also sent planes to New Zealand as part of the repatriation program.

      So, we flew back to Germany via Vancouver. After the first 2 weeks of voluntary quarantine, it is now time for a reorientation at home….


      This article was written by our employee.


      Head of Human Relations for the Technology Center Tires in Hanover Stoecken