Bach-owners heading to their second homes for the nationwide Covid-19 pandemic lockdown are being warned not to treat the next four weeks as an extension of their summer holiday.

People in rural enclaves outside the main centres are reporting people arriving towing trailer loads of "summer gear", while a resident of a tiny Hauraki Gulf island had heard of bach owners planning to go between their two homes during the lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned Kiwis to stay home and interact only with those in their household once the lockdown comes into effect at 11.59pm today.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has one simple message for Kiwis - "New Zealanders should act as if they have Covid-19" and stay at home. "Breaking the rules could kill someone close to you."

The country risked suffering "tens of thousands" coronavirus deaths if people did not follow the directive, Ardern said.


Thames-Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie had a message for those choosing to see out the lockdown in baches in the district, a popular holiday destination with 49 per cent of ratepayers living out of the district.

A council staff member had told her of "a constant stream of trailers loaded with summer gear" being towed through Thames, and she had spoken to a man who was doing last-minute house repairs on two baches so Auckland families could move in for the lockdown.

City-based owners were welcome, but she urged them to stick to the lockdown rules in what is - due to the number of older residents - a vulnerable area, Goudie said.

"I totally agree with the first call, which is that people should isolate in their homes. But for those who want to do so in a second home, they need to be mindful of the fact they're coming from a high infection area to a low infection area .... particularly when we have such a high over 65s population."

Thames Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie. Photo / Lesley Staniland
Thames Coromandel mayor Sandra Goudie. Photo / Lesley Staniland

She also reiterated that any exercise out of the home - allowed as long as people remained alone or in their household groups and didn't go within two metres of others - should be done sensibly.

"We don't need added stress on our emergency services [if you get into trouble]."

Under the level 4 lockdown, access to New Zealand's parks, reserves and beaches will be restricted and all surf lifesaving patrols suspended. Those within walking distance of beaches would still have access but it was not considered acceptable for people to drive to beaches.

No one should underestimate how serious the situation was, Goudie said.


As mayor she had been involved in civil defence and council discussions that included finding out the capacity of mortuaries in the district.

"I don't think people understand the breadth of preparations that civil defence and councils have to be prepared for … the morbidity rate is one of them. It's tough out there."

Taupō district mayor David Trewavas, with a 45 per cent out-of-district home ownership rate, said he hoped anyone with pre-existing conditions would "seriously reconsider" coming to the area, given the local hospital was classified as rural - meaning it didn't have the all the capabilities of a metropolitan hospital.

Rakino Island, home to around 20 permanent residents. Photo / Michael Craig
Rakino Island, home to around 20 permanent residents. Photo / Michael Craig

Meanwhile, on the tiny Hauraki Gulf island, Rakino, permanent population about 20, resident Holly Shepheard - who has organised for a weekly group order of groceries to be ferried to the island during the lockdown - has also heard of people thinking of coming to their baches for the lockdown.

Some had talked about "going back and forth" between homes on the island and the mainland.

"People have said, 'We'll be coming and going over the next few weeks' … I've said, 'You're either here or you're not'. All we can do is really lay it on thick that they are not going to be coming and going."

She still thought staying home was the best option.

"If you're coming from a distance there's all this stuff between you and [your destination, which could risk spreading the virus]. Just don't leave the house."

Former MP Hone Harawira and others have set up a blockade to protect Far North residents from Covid-19. File photo / Greg Bowker
Former MP Hone Harawira and others have set up a blockade to protect Far North residents from Covid-19. File photo / Greg Bowker

Some areas have already closed to non-residents, starting with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, the East Coast iwi which closed off its rohe (tribal area) this week.

And today, a blockade of the main routes into the Far North, along with "internal checkpoints" in other Far North locations, began.

Former Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira said volunteers at the "medical checkpoints" would turn back tourists and ensure locals returning from overseas were complying with self-isolation rules.

Further south, only two out-of-town families - regulars - had come to stay at their baches in Baylys Beach, as far as she knew, Sharkys fish and chip shop owner Tracey Hill said.

New Zealand will go to level four alert at 11.59pm today. Graphic / Phil Welch
New Zealand will go to level four alert at 11.59pm today. Graphic / Phil Welch

She was hopeful movement in and out of the beach settlement, which is 15km from the nearest supermarket would be limited, to keep everyone safe.

The fish and chip shop would close but she had permission to keep the dairy part open as an essential business. She was taking food orders from the community for suppliers, and had stocked up on staples such as potatoes, flour and yeast - a risk if people didn't shop there.

But as well as providing needed income while other parts of the business were closed, she also wanted to support the nationwide effort to stop the spread.

"It's a really small community, and I want to keep providing for the community. The last thing I want is them going to town." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website