In the absence of overland travel I thought a description of life in New Zealand under Covid conditions might be of interest to our international visitors?
We are a country geographically slightly larger than the United Kingdom, with a population of 5m people. Approximately 16% are the indigenous Maori, of Polynesian origin. Also like the UK, we are an island nation.
Like a number of countries we seem to be revisiting our colonial past and our government is attempting to rewrite history. Maori are being thrust into every facet of our lives including the renaming our country from New Zealand to Aoteoroa. Place names, language, governance of infrastructure, all now require Maori representation and consultation.
In the early stages of Covid, New Zealand took an elimination path to dealing with the pandemic. For nearly a year we have had virus free living. However, a premature quarantine-free opening of our borders with Australia has seen the virus steadily making it’s way through parts of the country. Auckland, our largest city being worst affected. Regional Lockdowns have restricted the spread but civil and wilful disobedience has seen affected areas spreading. With a death toll to date of only 28 from the virus, restrictive measures have been outstandingly effective. However, our hospitality and travel industries have been hard hit. Particularly the most remote and scenic areas.
From being nearly swamped by international travellers, New Zealand is now hermetically sealed. Our personal objectives have not changed. By around April/May next year we will head to the UK where we will see what options are available to us for continuing our travels. Both of us being double vaccinated we are hoping a vaccine passport will allow us entry to most countries. ‘Poki’ our Land Rover Defender, has been languishing under a car cover for the last year. We are most anxious to reaquaint ourselves with her. If she has dissolved into a pile of rust we may replace her with a new Ineos Grenadier, but don’t tell her..:)
What have we been doing?
Jen and I have been working hard on renovating a property in Rotorua that we plan to list for sale before Christmas. Property prices have gone ballistic here. Largely due to low interest rates. Political instability in many countries in the last few years has made New Zealand a desirable place to relocate to. Also a desire to avoid the burgeoning impact of climate change.
Car club activities have been the only travel undertaken. Jen had planned to take a group of club members on a tour of the Northern North Island late October early November. Regrettably the only way north from Rotorua by road, is through Auckland. Auckland has been in Level 4 lockdown, with no through traffic allowed through. So, the tour has been postponed until early next year, by when we hope restrictions will have ended.
Two weeks ago we had Car Club members visit to view progress on the restoration of ‘Blerta’. Blerta is a 1963 Humber 90 (Hillman Super Minx), that I have mentioned in earlier blogs. She is now, very close to completion. Covid restrictions has been a perfect excuse to be locked away in the garage, welding grinding, sanding, painting and tinkering.
Spring is here now bringing frequent showers with it, after a very dry, mild winter. Planting is under way in the garden. We’ve planted two verities of grapes and several species of strawberries, tomato’s, potatoes, radish, lettuce and many others. Fruit trees are in bloom after a hard pruning in the autumn. We are attempting to propagate a grapefruit tree from cuttings. Sister, Liz and Husband Chris, have a property in Matamata with a grapefruit tree smothered in large delicious fruit and from which we have taken cuttings. After a recent visit we have several cartons of grapefruit which will give us many weeks enjoying grapefruit for breakfast. Matamata is a town one hour north of Rotorua and recently famous as the closest town to Hobbiton.
In normal times Rotorua is a top destination for domestic and international tourists. With so many hotels and motels bereft of tourists, these facilities have been turned into Managed Covid Quarantine facilities and housing for the homeless & underprivileged. How times have changed!!
We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Colin, namer of Poki and along with the lovely Victoria. King Colin and Queen Victoria featured in a previous blog entry, before leaving the UK last October. RIP Colin, we will miss you.