Lockdown Life in NZ

As we go into the 5th week of lockdown here in New Zealand, it feels funny trying to write a blog post about outdoorsy things, so I thought I’d embrace it and give a little account of what life is like over here at the moment.

New Zealand has taken a ‘go hard, go fast’ approach and compared to the UK we are under much stricter rules. But you know what? I AM SO GLAD! Not to be staying inside all the time but it means we CAN see light at the end of the tunnel, and soon.

NZ starting social distancing measures about a week or two before lockdown was announced, and unlike some places we kind of went from 0 – 100 in 48 hours. There was no phased approach – one day we were working on set, in the middle of a scene and then at 3pm a live announcement from Jacinda streamed through our phones and that was it, lockdown was happening in 48 hours and we all needed to get somewhere safe. 48 hours! We had an entire house dressed as a set, so I wouldn’t call it chaos but everyone was in a super-heightened state of anxiety and a few tears from people worried about making the cut off and just overwhelmed by it all. I obviously looked a little shell shocked as a few of the crew asked me if I had somewhere to stay and would I be ok getting there. Writing that makes me really miss humans and work and the crew and interaction… We were working on the Kapiti Coast and being put up in accom so I had a little breathing room to sort out somewhere to live for at least a month, so on that front it was kind of ok – I had living plans for my next job in Welly and they were just frantically brought forward.

48 hours passed and we found ourselves in lockdown in a little house in Upper Hutt. The only things open, physically and online, were supermarkets and pharmacies. No online shopping, no DIY or craft supplies no nothing. Only allowed out for a food shop or 1-a-day exercise, no travel, no swimming, no tramping, no using of cars unless you’re going to the supermarket and the only essential workers allowed were medical and supermarkets employees. There was no real grey area. The borders were also closed to everyone but returning NZ citizens. My low level anxiety that had been swirling in the weeks pre-lockdown was calmed massively by the decisive action.

This move has seen massive public support, especially as time has gone on and the country has sort of been held up as an example of excellence in a crisis. There are countless adverts, videos and games (teddy bear and easter egg spotting) that are reinforcing this ‘we’re in this together’ message, and even using pop culture references, actors and programmes to get the message across. I’ll put some links to some funny things we’ve seen so far at the bottom of this post. The Police even put a call out for home-made videos to entertain and inform, and there have been some crackers! Film makers in lockdown need something to do I suppose?! 

NZ is using a system of ‘Levels’ which has been really good to clarify things – we are currently at Level 4 which means complete lockdown as I mentioned above. On Monday at midnight we move to Level 3 (woo!) which basically just means we get takeaways – hallelujah. Only when we get to Level 2 and below will physical retail/restaurant places start to gradually reopen and even then it won’t be like normal.

But anyway, life for the past 5 ish weeks has weirdly flown by. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! I try and run 3 or more times a week, we have a world lockdown championship of Bananagrams on the go (I’m winning), Yoga with Adrienne 30 day challenge, baking, reading, weekly supermarket trips, attempting to learn welsh and a lot of netflix/disney+ and all that. It’s definitely not exciting, but the days have definitely become easier as time has gone on. The concept of boredom really doesn’t exist anymore for us, as if you think about being bored I think mentally you’d just crumble – acceptance and allowing time to slip by have really been the only ways we’ve got through this so far. And lots of tea… We drink a ridiculous amount of tea.

Things I miss…
Coffee – I think this is me and the entirety of NZ on this one. Coffee is close to a religion over here and I really really really want someone to make me a flatty with a sugar.
Not avoiding people – Just mentally having to think of a 2m avoidance strategy for every person you see is hard!
Going out for a drink/food/coffee – speaks for itself really. I miss food I didn’t cook myself, I miss the social aspect of it, I miss cocktails and cold beers at a bar.
People – just, working with them, shopping with them, seeing them. Chatting about our days and life and all that stuff. Hugging, handshakes, joking. Boo you coronavirus. Boo you.

I couldn’t ask to be anywhere better for a pandemic to be honest, and despite a lot of tourists and travellers over here scrabbling to get flights home, it never once occurred to us that we wanted to go back to the UK. I mean, have you SEEN the state of it right now? I wouldn’t touch Boris Johnson-land with a barge pole let alone live there right now. I trust Jacinda, 100% and for every decision that is made here, there is always an explanation. All the stats are released every day, details of new cases and deaths and where they are. We are kept in the loop, there is no secrecy and this is a huge part of why it’s working I think – no one feels deceived or cheated and everyone is doing their part. “It will take our team of 5 million” as Jacinda puts it, to beat this.

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