We are eating better and exercising more, working from home, and still cautious about overseas travel - this is life in our post-Covid New Zealand.
A new survey reveals how much our lives have changed after the global pandemic which has infected 175 million people, taken 3.76 million lives, and made terms such as lockdown, tracer apps, and quarantine the new normal around the globe.
New Zealand's response to the virus and our virtual elimination of community transmission has meant life here is very different than those living in more deeply affected countries.
But the survey, the 2021 Lifestyle Survey – How We're Doing, shows Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns have had a profound effect.
"We've all had a sense of how life has changed since the pandemic hit the globe at the beginning of last year," said NZME chief revenue officer Paul Hancox.
"Our survey replaces anecdotes with hard data on just what's going on in Kiwis' lives, how we're shopping, what we are buying, what we are doing with our downtime, how we're working, keeping fit and our travel plans."
The survey was carried out by Colmar Brunton on behalf of NZME, publisher of the Herald. Between February 19 and March 5 this year, NZME spoke with 1000 New Zealanders to find out how Kiwis feel, shop, work, travel, and live.
Our home our castle
The survey found the Stay Home Save Lives message of lockdown has stuck with New Zealanders.
Despite having more freedom post-lockdown compared with the rest of the world, Kiwis said they are still spending more time at home.
There was more time for hobbies, exercise, home-cooked meals, and putting a teddy in the window.
Understandably, with more time on our hands, nearly half of us watched more television online compared with last year.
Younger Kiwis say they are still spending time watching TV/videos online, browsing the internet and scrolling through social media. For those over 50 gardening and reading were revealed as the go-to relaxation methods.
The first lockdown in March 2020 was a novelty. New Zealanders approached it with enthusiasm and baked bread, tried new recipes, and exercised.
This slipped with successive lockdowns though, with many admitting to streaming and catching up on sleep.
Those who fared best were the seven out of 10 Kiwis surveyed who are active during their downtime - they said they are "doing well."
The same can't be said for those scrolling social media. People who used their downtime on their devices said they were feeling more worried and anxious.
Survey results also revealed households added family members over 2020, with many seeking the comfort of a new pet.
Demand for puppies increased after lockdown, which has driven a huge price hike, with some pups now selling for more than $6000.
Auckland woman Nic Chan said lockdown fast-tracked her decision to get a puppy.
Her post-lockdown work schedule meant some days at home and some in the office.
"We were, and still are, working split days between the office and home, which meant - in that important puppy phase, I'd be home with him," Chan said.
Chan is currently able to take Freddie to work with her for the days she is in the office.
"Otherwise he'd be left home alone to cause havoc!"
Working from home
Home is definitely our castle but it has also become our workplace. The survey found more than 40 per cent of New Zealanders are still working from home in some capacity.
During Covid-19 there were reports of people working longer hours and not able to switch off.
The New Zealanders surveyed said they were finding work more demanding, especially those in the 50-64 age group, and many feel frustrated, anxious and worried.
They could see the benefits to working from home though, including time and money saved on the commute.
We work an average of 1.31 days per week from home.
Over a third of us are in a role where it is not possible to work from home due to the nature of the job.
Thirteen per cent feel their job is more demanding than it was a year ago - especially for those aged 50-65 years.
Encouragingly, only 2 per cent of Kiwis have lost their job.
For those still in employment, we are finding our jobs more demanding - after the lockdown period we are returning to a bigger workload.
How we shop
Lockdown has shifted our shopping habits. The survey found more New Zealanders plan ahead and do the supermarket or online shop once a week or fortnight.
There are more visits to the local butcher and fruit and vege shop and preprepared meal kits such as My Food Bag, Hello Fresh and Woop have soared in popularity.
Around a fifth of under-50s are using them more often than a year ago.
Meals are in the bag
For busy Matakana mum Ursula Gilchrist the ease of having at least three meals a week delivered to the home prepped and ready to cook is more appealing than ever.
Gilchrist owns Sentinel Homes, North Rodney, and is mother to 12-year-old Natalia and 17-year-old Brock.
Family life is busy and during the first lockdown, Gilchrist started ordering meal kits to avoid trips to the supermarket.
With the Matakana Market closed and only a Four Square nearby Gilchrist said cooking from provided ingredients and a recipe card was both convenient and a time to bond.
"I didn't want to stand in queues or risk catching Covid so we ordered meal kits and stayed home," Gilchrist said.
"Everything is fresh and clean and there is no waste. Lockdown gave us the time to be more considered about what we were putting into our bodies,"
Gilchrist has continued ordering various meal kits.
She is back in the office, the children back at school and Brock, who is involved in motorsport and races in the Toyota 86 series, trains most weekends.
"We are busy and the meal kits save us time and stop the impulse buys of foods with preservatives at the supermarket."
"I buy fruit and vegetables, eggs and bread at the market so we really don't need to go to a big supermarket."
And Gilchrist is not alone. The survey found New Zealanders were doing fewer shopping trips and embracing a more simple pantry cupboard.
It was revealed one in five of us are making fewer trips to the store because we are stocking up our pantries well in advance.
Compared with last year, young Kiwis are now stocking up. It was found 22 per cent of Kiwis are doing more bulk buying, which increases to 27 per cent for those aged 18-34.
Although meal kits have risen in popularity, two-thirds of New Zealanders have never ordered one; they are still the domain of the young and the affluent.
Those aged 18-34 said they would order Uber Eats on a weekly basis and more than one in five prepare a ready-made meal kit weekly.
Those surveyed revealed they were spending more time in front of screens, with headphones or with their nose in a publication.
Compared with a year ago Kiwis are spending more time with streaming TV services such as Netflix and Disney+, as well as online news websites and social media.
Younger audiences said they were reading printed newspapers in higher numbers. This was explained by the number of younger people returning to their family homes in lockdown and developing new habits.
The survey found 18-34s were the age group most likely to have seen an increase in the frequency of newspaper reading.
As well as reading news online and in print, 18-34s were also increasing their use of podcasts, social media, online music, and radio.
Lockdown gave New Zealanders a newfound love for exercise. In levels 3 and 4 it was one of the few reasons to leave the house so we took that and ran with it.
Bike purchases soared, with some reports of a 12-month waiting list. For households with dogs, there were plenty of walks to be had in a day.
The habit has stuck and over a third of those surveyed said they were exercising outdoors more than a year ago.
Only a small number admitted to having stopped exercising completely.
Online exercise routines using paid apps or videos are popular with young Kiwis, especially in Auckland and Wellington.
Those with higher-income households were revealed as being more likely to be running, cycling or swimming in their spare time.
Some of the changes are here to stay and people have made lockdown exercise routines part of their everyday life.
One in five people surveyed revealed they were not feeling okay.
Some people said they were anxious and actively avoiding life. They were feeling "less tolerant of other people".
They said they couldn't see their way through the crisis, didn't know how the economy would recover and were concerned about the overall wellbeing of the nation.
Despite New Zealand pulling through Covid-19 better than other countries, there are pockets of our society struggling, particularly the lower-earning 35-49 age group, who are trying to manage work and family life.
We're an optimistic nation, with 42 per cent of us feeling that overall, things will improve in the next 12 months.
Over half of the New Zealanders surveyed said they feel happier and were doing well
Those who said they were happier were less reliant on social media and were doing more free home activities.
Ready and waiting to travel
Kiwis haven't lost their zest for adventure and 82 per cent are interested in travelling overseas.
Many of those surveyed said they were hesitant to fly, with 73 per cent concerned about companies not refunding deposits, airline and hotel cancellation policies and potential loss of income and being stuck overseas.
The vaccine rollout and Cook Island travel bubble were described as a turning point for future travel.
A quarter of Kiwis said they planned to travel overseas in the next 12 months, but a quarter were unsure.
Young Aucklanders were revealed as the most likely to book first, with the 50-64s a little more hesitant about dusting off their passports.
Australia and the Pacific Islands were revealed as the top destinations for Kiwis, with over half of those surveyed saying they were the most preferred places.
How we are feeling
Overall the 1000 people who shared their experiences said they have come out of the Covid world mostly strong and happy.
They said the first lockdown created increased community and family bonds and felt like there was "a countrywide pact to support New Zealand."