MIQ Day 14 – departure!


And just like that, it’s done.

For future inmates, you need to know that checkout is a process, with systems and paperwork.

We were at the “easy” end of the scale – not going far, someone to pick us (and our copious luggage) up at the appointed time. If you’re not isolating in your ‘final destination’, I believe they will organise transport for you, at least back to the closest airport (including flights).

You have a 15 minute slot in which to exit, and you must not leave your room before your transport has arrived, and it is the appointed time! In your room, you are asked to bundle up all the linen and towels into big plastic sacks, and not leave anything in the room – apart from your keys.

Some anxiety as the departure time loomed and the nurse still hadn’t appeared to do our final healthcheck. Without those forms, you’re not going anywhere. And a post-departure chuckle as I read the form more fully and noticed the “do you have joint pain” question – I’m assuming Peter’s consistent, persistent arthritis doesn’t count?

You’re on your own getting your luggage to the lift and down to the lobby – once there, the army guys are standing by to help, which was awesome. We had a LOT of luggage – 3 checked suitcases and 2 cabin suitcases, plus handbags, 2 bags of leftover food & drink (I wasn’t about to abandon my beautiful supply of cheese), the bucket of cleaning materials I’d bought to keep our space habitable, the bicycle, windtrainer (super heavy) and back with footpump and cycling shoes.

At the appointed hour, we ferried it all to the lift lobby on our floor, and then when Pip arrived, I held the lift door open while Peter packed everything in. It was a mission!

Paperwork completed in the room (including a health check from the nurse) to be handed in, passports presented (they have to be sure the right people are escaping), and then as you leave, put your mask in the bin, sanitise your hands and THEN exit the gate. Peter caused much consternation by choosing to put on a new mask – we all thought he’d forgotten to bin the ‘hotel-contaminated’ one… he was unco-operative, and only crossly explained when things got heated!

The only missing piece of the process was the bill. Because we chose to leave, knowing we would have to isolate on return, we have to pay for our two weeks in a 4 start hotel – apparently they will send the bill in the due course. Okay. At least the hotel made sure that we paid for all those barista coffees before we left.

And then, just like that, in the car and away we go… home sweet home! Hugs from Izzy and Matthew, hugs for Koki – the realisation that there is NOTHING in the fridge or pantry, so Uber Eats to the rescue (oh dear!)

And the million dollar question – was it worth it? Or put more directly, asked by Pip: “If MIQ is still a thing next year, will you go to visit Rob, Jenna and Alfie again?” My answer – “hell yes!” While I am hopeful that Fortress NZ will be a little less “fortress” this time next year, we simply don’t know. But having experienced the sense of mental wellness that has come from reconnecting with family, I can honestly say I would do it again without hesitation.

In the words of my good friend George, reflecting on the Mark Twain quote below, “Now I see why the world looks more prejudiced, bigoted and narrow-minded, after no overseas travel for about two years.”

MIQ Day 2 – The Ramp


A day for settling in, trying to figure out how things work.


  • Day 0 Covid tests were both negative, so after a temperature / symptom check in the doorway of our room, we were issued with blue wrist bands, and permission to book an exercise slot each day (refer lowlights below!)
  • Getting outside into the fresh air – bringing my steps for the day up to 5,532, a big jump from the paltry 2,886 the previous day.
  • Still the food – hotcakes for breakfast, turkish chicken sandwich for dinner – YUM!
    (supplemented with our own stash of good cheese, and a much more acceptable bottle of cheap French bubbles, also from the hotel list as our wine delivery didn’t arrive)
  • Getting nearly 9 hours sleep! After a day when jetlag really kicked in, that was definitely an unexpected win!


  • Discovering that exercise slots are like hen’s teeth!
    The rooftop terrace was fully booked when we rang, all we could get was a booking on the “ramp” for 6.30pm – literally the ramp from the road down to the carpark entrance under the hotel. 25m of tarmac, between two walls, under the watchful eye of the NZ Army. “Don’t touch the walls or the orange cones” we were instructed, and don’t do anything vigorous – no running or jumping, no yoga… blah blah – basically, you can walk, but not do anything to raise a sweat, in case you shed the virus with your body fluids and pass it on to the next “exerciser”. So Peter and I marched up and down the ramp, for 30 minutes, in the dark… halfway through he put some music on his cellphone and I danced (badly) an Irish jig for at least one lap. Never mind – we have an 8.30am booking for the rooftop Tuesday morning, which will be better.

Discoveries so far
(aka advice for those of you following us into MIQ, and noting that this probably varies by location)…

  • Thank goodness we have LOTS of clothes! Yes, there is a laundry service (you get two laundry bags per person for your 2 weeks stay, which seems reasonable. BUT….
    Please note that we are unable to process any delicate, synthetic fabric, cotton, woollen garments.
    Now I’m really trying hard to find a single item of clothing in my suitcase that is not delicate, synthetic, cotton or woollen? What exactly CAN they launder? I think the issue is that virus control means they must wash and dry everything at very high temperatures! But the moral of the story is, bring lots of clothes – or frankly given that no one can enter your room, just wander around in your jammies all day.

So that was Day 2 – only 12 more days to go! We can do this!

MIQ Day 1 – do not leave your room!


Definitely a day of rest in this first full day in managed isolation.

Highlights of the day:

  • A long conversation with granddaughter Isabel, who asks concernedly “how are you doing, Ouma?”, and is very excited to be returning to school on Monday just 4 weeks after major surgery. Izzy, you rock!
  • A newsy catchup with family in Melbourne – endless time to talk allows us to traverse news of the whole family. Yes family, we talked about ALL of you!
  • The food, definitely the food! Eating far far too much – though now that we’re into the new week, our own menu selections kick in, which mean there will be less food, and definitely fewer desserts! The meals here at Rydges Auckland are exceptional.
  • The health checks – I know, how sad is it that this is a highlight. A real person at our door to take our temperatures (the only human we say all day), and a call from the nurses in the evening, to take our medical history & assess our “needs”. Hope they heard Peter’s statement that he can’t manage his health without exercise!
  • My Day 0 covid test result is in and it’s negative. Now just waiting for Peter’s result.

Lowlights of the day:

  • No exercise (though I did do an online pilates class). We can’t book outdoor time until our Day 0 covid tests come back negative, and we get given our health ‘all clear’ this morning. Hoping to fix this on Day 2.
  • Very poor wine choice with dinner – they didn’t have our first choice, and the alternative was well below par, even given our reduced expectations. Hoping to fix this also on Day 2 with (fingers crossed) a delivery from the wine store!
  • Worrying about the amount of waste being generated by the disposable packaging and cutlery used for all the food – and really hoping that the waste is being composted as they say – not noting that some of the packaging is definitely not compostable!

Discoveries so far (aka advice for those of you following us into MIQ, and noting that this probably varies by location)…

  • There are two cups and two glasses in our room, a kettle and nothing else. Also no way to actually wash those dishes. I ordered a delivery from the supermarket, including dishwashing liquid (and a bucket for washing them in as the bathroom basis is only about 3cm deep!). And tea towels to dry them! And a knife to cut the fruit and cheese, that also came in the order. Orders are checked by security – I did wonder if they’d allow the knife through, but yes!
  • Should have ordered toilet cleaner too – hoping that the hotel will provide that today, along with a toilet brush. Obviously the rooms are not serviced (no one allowed into your room unless it’s an emergency), so you’re on your own in terms of keeping your space liveable!

Small things make life easier… now heading into Day 2, fingers crossed for some exercise, or we may need to reorganise our tiny room to fit in a hired exercycle (assuming someone is willing to send one into an MIQ facility)! Now there are words my good friends never thought they’d hear from me.