They've been saying they're happily stranded, here by choice, but just this week their flights in December were cancelled. So what do two nomadic musicians do instead? Release an album, book in at summer festivals and schedule a full summer of touring and enjoying New Zealand to its fullest.

Good Habits are an alt-folk duo from Manchester featuring singer-cellist Bonnie Schwarz and accordionist Pete Shaw.

With the emergence of Covid-19 in the community their first tour which started back in January was cut short and as lockdown loomed the duo found themselves hunkering down in the small seaside town of Paekākāriki with fellow musicians Danni Parsons and Lance Shepherd who together form In The Shallows.

Emerging from lockdown they started recording an album after being inspired by In The Shallows who were recording an album of their own.

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Good Habits recorded their debut album Going for Broke in their bedroom in Paekākāriki. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Good Habits recorded their debut album Going for Broke in their bedroom in Paekākāriki. Photo / Rosalie Willis

"We thought we'd just give it a go and pulled together friends from all across the world that we've worked with, and in the space of a month and a half had finished the album," Bonnie said.

"During lockdown we did so many little projects and it was really after lockdown that we came out of the cracks and started recording."

Going for Broke is an eclectic collection of stories from their journeys and experiences before and during their New Zealand travels.

"They were seedlings of songs which have just grown and grown over the last few months."

Pulling the album together involved musical contacts from all over the world including bass player Léo Rocha from Brazil, Matt Waters, their trombonist who they met on the Interislander earlier this year when he was touring New Zealand but who works in China and has been spending lockdown in the United States, violinist Tiffany Anderson from the Hawke's Bay and sound artist and saxophonist Benjamin Marrington-Reeve who also mixed the tracks for them.

The album was mastered by Matt Waters and Matt Bush and made possible by a creative sustainability grant from PRS Foundation UK.

"It was a bizarre but magical thing to be working with people in different countries who are in some form of lockdown all completely different to ours right now.

"We are very interactive, free and still quite energetic when we perform live as a duo, so we needed to reimagine and rearrange to replace that interaction, excitement and live energy when creating an album.

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"We needed to build up the sound as there's a lot of space to fill alongside the cello, accordion and vocals.

"We gave Léo very loose instructions when we sent him our part and he came back with some Brazilian magic," Pete said.

"He just added so much joy to it with the bass line that we would never have written ourselves."

Being their debut album and taking a rather unusual route to create it, the duo were able to do the recording from their bedroom in Paekākāriki.

"It was pretty cool hearing the tracks come back as they turn into such different arrangements to when we are playing it as a duo."

Originally setting out to visit the places they missed earlier this year, the tour itinerary has grown to include summer festivals and will run from September to March next year after their flights in December were cancelled.

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"We applied for some festivals just in case and have now expanded the tour until March."

Taking a koha approach to many of their gigs will eliminate the risk if Covid-19 restrictions are in place with many of their gigs able to have a first in, first served rule.

And despite the climate, they don't feel like they're missing much back home.

"We love to tell a story through our music.

"We loved how Manchester was, the arts scene was just amazing, and we fell in love with being able to do so much, such interdisciplinary stuff.

"If Manchester was doing that now we would definitely be getting massive FOMO from everyone back home but since all that has stopped and everything here is going, we decided to stay.

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"We also love the small community feel of touring in New Zealand."

The tour starts with a live album launch at Tuatara's The Third Eye in Wellington on Friday, September 18.

The tour includes the Canterbury Folk Music Festival, the TSB Festival of Lights in New Plymouth, LoudMouth Performing Arts Festival , Resolution NYE Festival, Sanctuary Sounds and many more including markets and spontaneous busking.

For details and dates visit Good Habits on Facebook.

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