Three Bay of Islands companies have each won the Travellers' Choice award on Tripadvisor.
Great Escape, Paihia Dive and Barefoot Sailing were awarded the accolade two weeks ago.
Formerly called the Certificate of Excellence award, the Tripadvisor Travellers Choice award recognises businesses that consistently earn tourist reviews.
To qualify, the business must maintain an overall Tripadvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, received a minimum number of reviews in the 12-month period that the data was analysed, and have been listed on Tripadvisor for at least one year.
For Paihia Dive, it's the 10th year in a row they have received the award. Owner-operator Craig Johnston said the award was special this year because they have been affected by closed borders.
"It's great to see that what we do is still really appreciated," he said.
For Great Escape it's the third year in a row winning the award. Julie Kidman, co-owner and operator said after the last lockdown Kiwis "embraced the Tourism NZ slogan of 'Do something New Zealand' and adventure activities were really popular."
Barefoot Sailing owner, Rachel Biggins, said it's the third year in a row to win the Tripadvisor award. The company also received the Qualmark Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award this year.
"As a small business we are very customer focused and love making positive contributions to the community," she said.
What lockdown means in the Bay
Level 2 Delta isn't much different to level 3 and a stroll around the Bay of Islands reveals some companies are operating as normal and some are not.
One man who regularly strolls Te Tii Beach near Waitangi said he was surprised how many people weren't wearing a mask.
But if you don't want to contaminate the neighbourhood you have to rely on websites and Facebook.
In Russell The Nauti Penguin is open for click and collect. The Duke of Marlborough Hotel is still "serving rascals and reprobates" according to its website. A Facebook post said it was closed until August 25 and a recorded phone message referred you back to the website.
Gables Restaurant closed in mid-July for winter and plans to open on September 24. Their website hasn't been updated. Sage Restaurant (6km out of town in Paroa Bay) is running a "Sage at home" cook and delivery service.
In Paihia someone posted they just had fish 'n chips from JFC with contactless pickup. JFC? Just Fish 'n Chips of course.
Bad Habits (Paihia) and the Road Runner Tavern (between Opua and Paihia) are advertising contactless pickup. The Whare Waka Cafe at Waitangi says you can come in, provided you are wearing a mask, sanitise your hands and keep your distance.
Bay of Islands Vets at Kawakawa won't be doing surgery but will vaccinate your pet on request. They're operating a closed-door policy, which means phone first and someone will meet you at the door.
Ngāti Hine Health Trust is operating out of the Moerewa Christian Fellowship Centre and vaccinating people against Covid 19. It is offering three $200 grocery vouchers but don't say to whom. It could be first in gets the reward.
Pita Pit in Kerikeri is marketing "Ceaser" (sic) salads for pickup while Northland Bagels in Kerikeri are marketing, well, bagels. Northland Waste in Kerikeri is grumpy about used masks being put into the paper recycling bins in Kerikeri.
"Who in their right mind would think of recycling masks that have been used even if you don't have the virus. It's a filthy and disgusting," said the person posting and went on to say the day before she turned away someone who wasn't wearing a mask.
Sounds like she could use Kundalini Yoga with Sam from Kerikeri, on Zoom, first lesson free.
New transfer station partnership
A new partnership between Northland Waste and Resilient Russell Charitable Trust has them working together at the Russell transfer station.
The two organisations have previously worked together at several local events providing waste solutions and education to the public. The Resilient Russell people were waste "ambassadors" while Northland Waste supplied the hardware and the bins.
John Maxwell, chairman of Resilient Russell, said the collective focus will be on sustainable waste management and a transition towards a more circular approach to waste recovery.
"When the council started looking for a new operator for the transfer station and land fill I knew, together with Northland Waste, that we could provide the community with a superior facility using local knowledge and expertise," he said.
Historically only a small percentage of Russell's households and businesses recycled waste separately. Resilient Russell and Northland Waste will focus on changing the way waste is dealt with, with the inclusion of a Resource Recovery Park to be called Russell Re:Sort.
New initiatives will include wood waste recovery, on-site composting of food and green waste, up-cycling and a second-hand shop. There are also plans to improve the glass bunkers so more glass can be recycled on-site.
A new layout and a covered area will encourage the public to recycle first and dump last. There are plans to provide a series of smaller bins to help with waste separation.
"We want the community to spend a little bit of extra time sorting out waste material that was previously thrown in the landfill," said Maxwell.
In the meantime, the landfill has been temporarily closed because of possible subsidence. Far North District Council will engage an independent expert to report on the site as soon as Covid 19 travel restrictions are relaxed.
Waste destined for landfill at Russell will be transported to the Northland Regional (Purewa), south of Whangārei.
The cosmopolitan atmosphere
Still in lockdown so another from the pen of Sara Dinnen.
The Bay of Islands is a cosmopolitan region. There are tangata whenua and there are those who are not but whose longevity with the area goes back at least six generations.
Many are from overseas and are usually here for six months of the year - except they were caught up with the first lockdown last year and got stuck here.
Many of those had their visas extended and now that period of grace is over they face the prospect of going home to the US or UK or Europe at the start of the northern winter. It doesn't sit well with them.
Others have chosen to live here from other parts. Take the man who mows my lawns for example. He's from Belgium and it may have been his accent but I could have sworn he said he'd "do my ginger".
"What?" I exclaimed with imagination running rampant. "I'll do your ginger," he repeated and pointed to a clump of things with pretty heads that are noxious to the environment. And there they were, waiting to be excised, just like a bunch of ex-husbands.
Then there is the man who came to fix a leak in the bathroom. He's from the Pacific Islands, Tonga to be precise.
He has the kind of body that's eminently suited to wearing the tank top and shorts he had on so when he got down on his knees to examine the leak, I was treated to a vista I hadn't been treated to for quite some time. And he fixed the leak.
The man down the road is from India. He works in one of the restaurants in town and he loves to talk food. I thought he said he had all sorts of "kauris" available and I imagined he had a section full of trees that were bled for gum.
Then there is the woman originally from the UK. She refers to the UK as "home" and speaks French whenever she can find someone who can understand her.
She's been here for 40 years, longer than she was there. You have to wonder how long it takes someone to settle in a region that's full of visitors, impermanents, permanents and those with a long history of being here before she accepts she is of fixed abode.
• Email Sandy Myhre at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.