US couple locked down in Edendale

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A little fishing, a little golfing, catching up with old friends sounds like an idyllic way to spend a few weeks, unless a pandemic interrupts your plans.

This is exactly what happened to American couple Tom and Nancy McLoughlin, of Connecticut.

Mr McLoughlin said the couple arrived in New Zealand on February 24 and visited friends in Central Otago before booking in to Southies Edendale Motels.

“We had great fishing[in the Mataura River] from about the 20th to the 23rd,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Once lockdown happened on March 26 there were no more rounds of golf or fishing.

To keep themselves amused the couple went to the Edendale Rugby Club grounds armed with walkie-talkies.

“I would drive to Nan, six balls and [she would] try to find them in the rather long grass and then she’d hit them back to me.”

The couple set up some targets to practise their driving and pitching.

They also did some walking.

“[That was] really nice because we got to meet some of the neighbours. I got to spot all the teddy bears,” Mrs McLoughlin said.

Through the internet the couple kept in touch with family at home and their New Zealand friends regularly kept in contact, too.

“We haven’t felt isolated.

“We feel like people here have been watching out for us,” she said.

Since Alert Level 3 has come into effect the couple have resumed playing golf and fishing.

“We’ve been golfing in the morning and fishing in the afternoon.”

The couple first came to New Zealand in 1971 while on holiday from a teaching position in Australia.

They came south and ended up camping beside the Mataura River.

“At the time we had a four and a-half year old and a 9-year-old and we camped on Crump’s farm and got to know them very well,” Mr McLoughlin said.

Mr McLoughlin had continued to visit after the family moved back to the United States and when the children left home Mrs McLoughlin came too.

“We’ve been coming for 40 years.”

Mr McLoughlin, who is a marine biologist, taught his wife to fish.

“Unfortunately she has become better than the teacher and out-catches me most days now.”

He considered he was a lucky man to have a wife who enjoyed both fishing and golf.

They had planned to leave New Zealand on April 14 but flew out last Thursday.