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Julia Schurmann (19) and Lisa Archut (18), both of Germany, arrived at the Queenstown Lakes District council Luggate Red Bridge free camping ground on Monday night.
They were the last to leave the site before council parks officer Diana Manson locked the gates at noon yesterday.
Ms Schurmann said they had been monitoring German websites, not New Zealand Government websites, and had ‘‘quite a shock’’ when ‘‘someone’’ knocked on their van on Monday night and informed them the alert level was being raised.
She said they had flights booked to Berlin tomorrow but if they were cancelled she had heard the German government ‘‘was already trying to get people out of here, so we will get out somehow’’.
Myrte and Leon De Kleine, of the Netherlands, were in Milford Sound on Tuesday when they heard about the lockdown from friends, before they read it on their cellphones and on Facebook.
Mr De Kleine said they decided to spend the four weeks in Wanaka but ‘‘it was scary at first’’ because he did not know if camping grounds would be open.
He said ‘‘someone’’checked on the occupants of each van parked at the Red Bridge free camping ground to make sure they had a plan for the lockdown period.
‘‘Thanks to the New Zealand people opening up their houses,’’ he and his wife had found a five-bedroom Wanaka house through Facebook that he could rent and share with other travellers.
Mr De Kleine said he would have liked more information on the New Zealand government website about what the lockdown meant for campers ‘‘but then again it is such chaos around the entire world I can’t say they did a bad job’’.
On Tuesday, the council communications department issued guidelines for visiting campers.
Spokesman Jack Barlow said the council had four full-time freedom camper ambassadors working in and around Wanaka supporting campers.
Posters summarising the guidelines would be distributed across the district as soon as they had them, he said.
Immigration New Zealand senior engagement and comms adviser Christina Kiriakidis confirmed the self-isolation requirement of the Health Act was being managed by the police, with the support of Immigration New Zealand where necessary and the Ministry of Health.
However, she did not elaborate on how this applied to tourists.
The ODT has asked Immigration if the Government intended to make it clear on the Covi-19 website that tourists as well as residents had to be in lockdown and self-isolation for four weeks.