Bach owners are travelling under cover of darkness to get to their holiday homes on the Coromandel and they are being warned - home is not your holiday home.

"We're hearing that holiday home and bach owners are relocating to our district between now and Easter," said Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Sandra Goudie.

"There appears to have been a marked increase in traffic, particularly during the hours of darkness, travelling up both sides of the Coromandel and lots of reports of holiday homes with people in them, which is not the norm for this time of year.

"The message is clear - stay home and save lives. Home is not your second holiday home, it's your permanent place of residence.


Goudie said the Coromandel would struggle if bach owners travelled to the region.

"The capacity of our medical and other essential services is not the same as the larger centres. If we get a cluster of sick people outside of our usual permanent population, our medical facilities will struggle."

Residents say they have noticed increased traffic and some shop owners confirmed they were seeing people who were not local in beach towns such as Tairua where the ratio of holiday homes to permanent residences is high.

In the days before the lockdown, the Matarangi Four Square store owner Darren Walker told the Coastal News his business was 70 to 80 per cent busier than the same time last year and was promoting deliveries for people who were coming to the area to self-isolate.

He believed there were more bach owners on the Coromandel, self-isolating in the leadup to lockdown.

In Pauanui, Linley Hadwin said there had been a noticeable increase in traffic coming in and she disagreed that bach owners who drove down during lockdown should get away with flouting the rules.

"They are a law unto themselves. They seem to think because they pay rates they have a right to be at their bach, with disregard for the consequences of that action."

Suz and Steven Thomas moved from their apartment in Auckland before the lockdown to their home in Tairua, which they live in three days out of seven.


She agreed nobody should be travelling now but said negative comments about bach owners who'd relocated before the lockdown were "hard to stomach".

"It's got really nasty," she said. "My husband and I downsized to an apartment in Auckland so that we could lock and leave to spend more time here. We've been coming to Tairua since we were 15. This is home to us."

Her son and daughter were living with them in Tairua while other immediate family members remained in the city because they were frontline workers and did not want to subject them to any risk.

Thames-Coromandel District Council Mayor Sandra Goudie.
Thames-Coromandel District Council Mayor Sandra Goudie.

"We're all set up for family here. There's no way we could take them in at our little apartment in Auckland."

In Whangamata, police had issued five warnings for non-essential travel, including a bach owner who drove 400m down the road to "check the surf" and a motorcyclist who had ridden to Whangamata from Auckland and was followed when he passed the station.

Most people entering Whangamata will pass the police station and the sound of an unfamiliar motorbike was enough to raise suspicion in the town of 4000 permanent residents.


"When we stopped him at Williamson Park, he said he'd driven to the Coromandel because he hasn't been to the Coromandel in approximately 20 years. This was a blatant breach of the self-isolation and lockdown rules and he was issued with a breach warning," Sergeant Will Hamilton said.

Goudie thanked the many residents who were abiding by the guidelines but she added the category of exercising far from home to the list of no-gos.

"Those that continue to disregard the guidelines to suit themselves by fishing, boating, swimming, surfing, exercising far from home, driving around for no particular reason, and so on are placing unnecessary added stress on the rest of the community," she said.

"We're all in this together and need to take this seriously. This is not a holiday and it's likely measures will stay in place for a number of weeks," said Goudie.

TCDC was promoting a hotline for people to report suspected breaches of guidelines by businesses and individuals. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website