Like everywhere, there is an eerie silence hanging over Mount Maunganui today.

The sun is out but the air is cold and it is surreal seeing our bustling seaside paradise reduced to a ghost town.

On any usual morning, the Marine Parade boardwalk and area around the base of Mauao is crowded with joggers, walkers, cyclists and cafe regulars.

This morning, there were still people exercising but their numbers were tiny and there is little danger of anyone breaching the physical distance rule.

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Empty Mount Maunganui streets this morning. Photo / Supplied
Empty Mount Maunganui streets this morning. Photo / Supplied

My kids and I began our day with a bike ride, following a schedule devised by my 11-year-old son, who dislikes spontaneity and craves routine.

I banned him from doing jumps on his bike because I know if he wrecks yet another tyre that the blow to his mood could be dire.

He and my 9-year-old daughter loved the fact they could ride in the middle of the road but I found it surreal and sad.

Hewletts Rd, Tauranga this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
Hewletts Rd, Tauranga this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

The only traffic we saw were a few delivery trucks, courier vans and a handful of cars.

I saw an old lady standing with her walker on the side of Maunganui Rd, the main thoroughfare, staring out at the empty street.

She was wearing a facemask and I stopped several metres away to ask if she was OK.

She smiled gently and said yes.

At the south end of Marine Parade, two homeless men emerged from a walkway and crossed towards the beach.

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Hewletts Rd, Tauranga this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner
Hewletts Rd, Tauranga this morning. Photo / Andrew Warner

What is going to happen to these people?

Who will look after them and how will they eat?

For now, they have the comfort of the only sound at the Mount – the sound of the waves.

– Juliet Rowan is a former New Zealand Herald journalist and Mt Maunganui resident.