TWO women from Reading are facing a 'scary and stressful' situation after finding themselves stranded in New Zealand amid the coronavirus lockdown.

NHS worker Saskia Castelijn, 26 and Ellie Harris, 25, arrived in New Zealand on March 15 from Melbourne, Australia - more than a week before the lockdown took hold.

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Ms Castelijn said: "We were made aware we would struggle to get home on Monday, March 23.

"We were driving through a rural road in New Zealand and stopped by a local who informed us of the lockdown law.

"We were told we needed to drop the campervan, which we had hired for one month, immediately and try to get on a flight home."

But the friends has heard nothing from the British embassy after calling them in Auckland, as well as the high consulate in Wellington.

"We got no response from anyone and we feel left abandoned," Ms Casteljin said.

"My parents have tried to call the embassy in the UK and only get an automated emails.

"We only get updates via twitter and they are very general vague messages."

She described the situation as 'scary and stressful', adding that backpackers are all trying to book flights, which get cancelled at the last minute.

The women are currently staying at a hostel full of stranded British, German and French residents.

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"It is interesting to hear that Germans have been fully supported by their government and repartition flights are being organised already for as early as next week," she added.

"Whereas the British have heard nothing.

"We are currently safe and have access to food, with New Zealanders being very kind to us.

"It seems their government has it under control.

"They have taken coronavirus very seriously - level four has been announced as of today (March 25).

"We are now on the same lockdown laws as the UK."

Reading Chronicle:

Miss Castelijn said that the love and support from family, friends and fellow backpackers is the only thing keeping the women positive.

"The British morale has been kept so strong with Facebook and WhatsApp groups keeping us going and updated," she said.

"The most progress is being made by individuals working hard on backpackers' groups and putting together databases of the location of stranded Brits.

"The prospect of being stuck without money is scary and overwhelming.

"What I find so frustrating is that NHS staff, including myself, are stranded here when we could be in England helping those in crisis."