"This is not a holiday – we are fighting a virus and we should all be doing the right thing."

That's the message from Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick about the Government's lockdown rules that came into place at midnight on Wednesday.

Residents on social media expressed confusion this week about whether the Redwoods forest was open to the public.

Whakarewarewa / Redwoods Forest in Rotorua. Photo / File
Whakarewarewa / Redwoods Forest in Rotorua. Photo / File

Parks and reserves remain open, but parts where people will be touching common surfaces, are not.


"It's impossible to sign and tape up our entire district but all carparks, toilets and other facilities are closed and playgrounds are also out of bounds and being taped up," Chadwick said.

In yesterday's press conference, Police Commissioner Mike Bush reiterated Kiwis should "keep it local" when going outside to exercise in a park or reserve but could make short drives if the park or reserve was in the neighbourhood.

"Don't be driving willy-nilly all over town. If it's nearby, if it's exercise, that's okay."

Some good information from Council. The forest is open but the car parks are not. Also, the magical trail pixies won't...

Posted by Rotorua Trails Trust on Tuesday, 24 March 2020

"The message from our police is to stay in your bubble," Chadwick reiterated.

She asked the public to "drive only to get essential supplies or go to and from work if you work for an essential service".

"If you need fresh air stick to your immediate neighbourhood, keep a distance from people other than those in your household and if you're at your local park, stick to green spaces only."

Chadwick said people needed to stay home "unless absolutely necessary".

"Activity that's not necessary, including driving, puts others at risk, including emergency services staff if you have an accident or injure yourself. The last thing we need to do is add pressure on our essential services.


"People's ignorance or blatant disregard for the situation puts people's lives at risk. It's our whole community's job to save lives."

In a Facebook post, the Rotorua Trails Trust said: "The forest is open but the carparks are not."

"Stay chill, be kind and listen to the government announcements. Be safe."

Meanwhile, in Tauranga, the city council's people and capability general manager, Susan Jamieson, said the city was relying on people "to follow Government's instructions and to be responsible".

The council is aiming to have signs at each playground and skatepark over the next two days but won't be enforcing the closures.

"Staying at home is the best thing we can all do to stop the spread."

The Tauranga City Council has said it will not collect parking fees during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

The fee suspension applies to all on and off-street parking spaces and parking buildings, effective from today.

"The council's focus during the lockdown is on safe and considerate parking," it said.

"If anyone is concerned about someone being parked illegally, please call the contact centre."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website