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“We are extremely relieved and happy to be back with our families,” the couple said in a statement, according to the New Zealand Herald.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us over the past few months and sincerely thank them for all of their help during this challenging chapter of our Expedition Earth journey.

“We are safe and sound. However, we would request privacy for ourselves and our families over the next few days while we get our bearings and enjoy being reunited with our families.

The episode has captivated and intrigued New Zealanders since it was released this week.

Mr. Richwhite is the son of investment banker David Richwhite, one of the richest people in the country.

The couple began their extravagant journey in 2018. Earlier this year, they returned to New Zealand to get married on a private island near the Coromandel Peninsula.

After their break, they returned to Europe to resume the mission, heading for Iran – despite government advice telling Kiwis not to go there.

Ms Thackwray said she was asked to wear more modest attire at an Iranian police station and asked her husband to kiss her while driving – a public display of affection which she said was against local laws.

In Wellington, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed that she should press Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian for their release.

Anti-regime protests escalate

Iran descended into major civil unrest after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Protests escalated on Wednesday as protesters marked 40 days since his death.

The move has become one of the boldest challenges to religious leaders since the 1979 revolution, with a wide range of Iranians calling for the fall of the Islamic Republic and the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. .

Videos on social media showed security forces blocking roads leading to Saqez in Iran’s West Kurdistan region. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the videos.

Authorities on Wednesday closed all schools and universities in Kurdistan province “due to a flu wave”, Iranian state media reported.

Videos on social media showed crowds filling the streets of many cities and shuttered bazaars in Tehran and some other cities with people chanting “Death to Khamenei”.

A Twitter account focused on protests in Iran with 280,000 followers, 1500tasvir, reported a “brutal crackdown” on protesters in several locations in Tehran, including at the Tehran Medical Association.

The United States has imposed new sanctions on Iranian officials, including those who oversee Evin prison in Tehran, and others for internet censorship and repression.

While some analysts said the prospects for the imminent dawn of a new political order were dim, activists said a wall of fear had fallen and the path to a new revolution was not reversible.

Students have played a central role in the protests, with dozens of universities on strike. Hundreds of schoolgirls joined in, chanting “Freedom, Freedom, Freedom”, despite fierce repression by security forces.

State media and hardliners called the protesters “hypocrites, monarchists, thugs and seditionists.”

Rights groups said at least 250 protesters were killed, including teenage girls, and thousands were arrested.

Authorities, who have accused the United States and other Western countries of fomenting what they call “riots”, have yet to announce the death toll, but state media said a thirty members of the security forces had been killed.

AAP and Reuters