A BORDERS woman spent lockdown in New Zealand – and she has no regrets about rejecting flights home.

Jenny Stavert, 22, moved Down Under on a working visa last July, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh.

For the duration of lockdown, the former Galashiels Academy pupil lived in a hostel with 50 other people in Wellington, the nation's capital.

And although UK Government advice was that British citizens should return home, Jenny chose to decline two offers of repatriation flights.

"Both times, I was only given around 24 hours' notice to travel from Wellington to Auckland," Jenny told the Border Telegraph.

"We were still in level three of lockdown at this point, so it would have been nearly impossible.

"I had job commitments and a notice period to work.

"It's quite distressing to be given 24 hours' notice to leave the country.

"I still had time left on my visa, so I decided to stay."

As the only Scot in a hostel full of other Britons, Americans, Germans, Spaniards and French people, she says she had a "great time" during lockdown.

"The hostel had such a small kitchen and communal living area, so we all had to act as one bubble," she said.

"I loved it to be honest, it was a great atmosphere.

"There was always someone different to talk to, and I got to know everybody in the hostel really well."

Due to New Zealand's apparent success in controlling the spread of the virus – after 10 weeks of lockdown measures of varying degrees – the country is almost back to normal.

Jenny, who worked full-time in "a cross between IKEA and Homebase" for the last few months, has since been able to continue travelling around New Zealand's north island, ahead of her return to the Borders next month.

"I was working to save up money to spend a month in Australia before returning home," she said.

"Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a stop to those plans."

When asked why she thinks New Zealand appears to have handled the pandemic better than other countries, she said: "I think Kiwis are just really compliant.

"The measures over here were much stricter, but lasted for a much shorter length of time.

"I remember speaking to my parents who told me they were able to order takeaways from local restaurants in Gala, and I was really surprised.

"New Zealand introduced the two-week quarantine rule for international arrivals almost as soon as the virus began to spread across the globe.

"Whereas the UK government only introduced that rule from June 8. I couldn't believe it."

Online retailers like Amazon were not allowed to operate in New Zealand during the early stages of lockdown, and nobody was allowed to enter pharmacies – prescriptions were collected and paid for at the door.

Jenny said: "Jacinda Ardern [New Zealand's Prime Minister] has been great.

"So many people admire what she's done – she was really quick off the bat.

"There were no restrictions on how often people could exercise, as long as social distancing rules were followed.

"But sports like hiking and surfing were banned.

"You weren't allowed to take part in any activity which there was a chance you may need to be rescued from.

"There was some panic buying – pasta, some sanitary products, flour.

"Nobody bulk bought toilet paper over here, though."

Jenny was set to land back in the UK on July 4, after travelling via Sydney and Dubai.

However, her flight has been cancelled by Emirates Airlines.

She said: "This is my third flight that has been cancelled.

"They're saying that I won't be able to make it out of New Zealand until August with them, so I'll probably try getting a refund so I can book with another company."

When she completes a compulsory two-week self-isolation period on her eventual return, she will enjoy seeing family and friends, she said, but she expects it will be "strange" to experience a form of lockdown again.

"I'm glad I've been over here instead of back in the UK," she said.

"Lockdown was really fun for me."