'Bachelorette NZ' couple Lily and Richie talk making their relationship work during lockdown

While fans of The Bachelorette will be gutted the show's come to an end, Lily and Richie couldn't be happier that their relationship is finally out in the open - despite not actually being able to go out due to the nationwide lockdown.

"We finished filming the show five months ago and as we've had to keep our relationship secret we've basically been in isolation mode since then," Lily says.

"We're pros at it now."

However, when the Covid-19 lockdown was announced the couple did have to decide how they were going to make their relatively new relationship work.

"We were a little bit worried, to begin with, because we both have flatmates, and we obviously weren't going to be able to go between both houses," Lily explained.

"We initially thought that it wasn't a good idea to spend four weeks straight with each other, but then we realised we also don't want to be apart for a month either, so we committed to living together for the duration."

The pair are currently spending lockdown in Nelson but in terms of what happens with their living arrangements once the lockdown is lifted, Richie says they're not putting any pressure on themselves to make a call just yet.

"We're going to play it by ear," he says.

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Rich, you’re the kindest, softest piece of work a woman could ever ask for. Before you, the word ‘easy’ was seen as negative word for me when it comes to relationships. I was under the impression that maybe I had to feel a little guarded, restricted, insecure, like I couldn’t always be understood or feel adored every single day. I thought maybe this was just me. That maybe the free, crass, rough cut, emotional, independent woman that I am I was never going to be completely understood or supported. That I was always going to be clashing in some way with my partner for being and feeling everything that I am. That’s why I didn’t believe in ‘easy’ and I guess I thought I was okay with that. That the battles were going to be exhausting but worth it if I was able to keep everything that I was intact. Yet this is easy Rich. I’ve realized that ‘easy’ is so far from being a negative word. I don’t want to feel exhausted, I want to feel energized and supported. I want the time and energy to put into things that I want to do to feel accomplished and satisfied as a woman. You do just that for me Rich. You can always seem to understand how I feel, even if my brutal honesty is the last thing you want to here. You support my choices, space and emotional capacity. You never make me feel like I feel too much or too little. You put every single strung out string inside my brain at ease. You’re an incredible man Rich, I’m in complete awe of who you are as a person. Cheers to trying as hard as we can to be exactly who we are and putting a little trust in the universe to sort out the rest. I’m a very happy woman. Thank you to everyone that showed us even the slightest amount of love and support. I’m going to go cry into a beer bottle now ❤️

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"We have really open communication and both really want this to work. We don't want to rush into moving in together if it's not for the right reasons."

And while some may think the hardest part for Richie would be watching the show back with his current partner and having to see her kiss her ex-boyfriends, Lily and Richie agree that hiding their relationship has been the most challenging aspect since the filming of the popular show wrapped.

"It's been so hard keeping it a secret," Lily grins.

"Whenever we go to the supermarket Richie says he has to go in because he's the 'less famous' one. I have to stay in the car with a hoodie, hat and sunglasses on."

"We got busted once when we were at a supermarket in Nelson," she recounts.

"A woman saw us and screamed out 'Lily! Congratulations!' so we had to sprint out of there."

The couple admits they've had a few close calls with Bachelorette fans nearly busting them.

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Hey Gorgeous Lily, It’s me, the normie from Wanaka, who came into this experience open minded, yet closed off, with little reason, and no idea, until I met you. It’s the only way we could have met. A whirlwind dating show, empanada making, comic book creating and so far from the comfort zone. When I felt insecure, it was you who showed me it was a good thing. The days of confusion, you unpacked it with me. We communicated right from the start, it was easy, and lovely, so fucking natural. I’m so grateful you gave me the chance to get to know you, and show me something I didn’t know existed in the world of dating on or off TV. A set of values which resonated with me, values just like mine. Honesty, integrity, trust, mindfulness, inspiration, kindness, empowerment to name a few, and a set of beautiful eyes which I bet ya grew yourself. Together we have jumped, driven, cooked, laughed, fished, taken on alta egos, sailed, cried, conversed and surfed our way to the start of something quite special. I once said to you, I cannot wait to see what our life would be like out of the bubble, and Jesus fuck it’s been a treat. I want to be right there with you while you take over this world. You can light up a room with your smile, and your energy can be felt from a mile. An articulate, crusty, extraordinary, beautiful human, and also a best friend. Bring it on @lilymcmanus, Your Cowboy xx

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"One night we went to Art and Matilda's house for dinner and we all went to the beach the next day. I was sunbathing topless and Richie had his pants off, and a busload of school kids drove past... that was a nightmare" she laughs.

The Bachelorette star says that as well as double date dinners - and sleepovers - Art has been a godsend whenever she needs advice on life post-reality TV.

"Art's biggest piece of advice to me was not to put too much pressure on the relationship."

Sound advice they say they are taking. Despite the cameras being off she and Richie both say they are on the same page and in this for the long haul.

"After we finished filming the finale I sat Richie down and told him we didn't have to jump into being boyfriend and girlfriend straight away, but he said 'No, I want to be your boyfriend,' which was great because I wanted to be his girlfriend."

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.