A Bay of Islands man is challenging Northlanders to put the lockdown to good use by picking up roadside rubbish around their neighbourhood.
Simon Upperton, who lives near Kerikeri, said he had been dismayed to see the amount of litter clogging roadside drains during his regular bike rides on Puketotara Rd.
''I found it quite depressing really. In places there's another bit of litter every metre.
There's beer cans and bottles but also fast food takeaway containers. It's quite incredible how much there is,'' Upperton said.
Any time it rained heavily the rubbish disappeared as it was washed into streams and eventually into the Bay of Islands.
''Then it just gets replaced by more,'' he said.
Upperton said Puketotara Rd was not just the backyard for many Bay of Islands residents, it was also part of the popular Te Araroa Trail from Cape Reinga to Bluff.
The rubbish was bugging Upperton well before the latest Covid outbreak but the lockdown motivated him to do something about it.
''I picked up a bit but I realised I couldn't solve the problem on my own, so I put out a challenge on social media to people who are sitting idle because of the lockdown. You're probably walking down your street anyway, so why not pick up the rubbish while you're there?''
Anyone who accepted the challenge should follow Covid alert level restrictions by sticking to their local area and staying in their bubble.
They should also wear gloves but that was always advisable when picking up rubbish. Any recyclable material found would have to be stored until recycling centres reopened.
Upperton said he had a good response on Facebook with more than 300 likes but what he wanted was people to pick up the challenge.
If they posted photos of how much trash they found that could inspire others to do the same.
Those who have accepted the challenge include Ella, 8, and Jack Lee, 9, who live on a rural road near Kaeo.
They had already picked up rubbish along a 300m section of road when stepmum Kelly Fogden spotted Upperton's challenge so on Sunday they cleaned up another 500m, filling six large sacks and a tractor scoop with trash.
Jack said they mostly found cans and bottles — even though they can be taken to a recycling centre at no cost — along with hub caps, broken road markers and plastic.
It was disappointing, he said.
''It ends up in the drain, then in our waterfall, and then in the ocean where animals eat it. They think plastic bags are jellyfish.''
His sister, Ella, agreed.
''I feel angry that people are just throwing rubbish onto the road, they don't even care that it's their own backyard or road.''
Jack said it was a good activity for lockdown when there wasn't much else to do.
''I feel happy that we're doing it and our neighbourhood is clean again.''
Others who have been pitching in include Paihia's ''zero waste granny'' Jane Banfield, who filled eight bags with rubbish found along SH11 between Ōpua and Te Haumi.
In particular she found a large number of plastic lids from takeaway coffee cups.
Once lockdown ended she urged Northlanders to help protect the marine environment by asking for no lid on their coffees.
Upperton said other parts of New Zealand didn't seem to have the same problems as Northland with roadside litter.
He had yet to establish whether that was because other councils cleaned up roadsides or had better enforcement or messaging. Another possibility was that other communities made sure would-be litterers knew it was unacceptable.
Within his area a significant proportion of rubbish appeared to come from one person who left a trail of Monteiths Cider bottles the length of Puketotara Rd and into Mangakaretu Rd.
In the Far North there are no official clean-ups of local roads. Contractors for Waka Kotahi, however, sometimes collect rubbish along state highways.