University students arrived in Wellington over the weekend to the news their orientation week events had been cancelled.
Following the news of community Covid cases in Auckland, the rest of the country was moved to alert level 2 at 11.59 on Sunday night for the next three days. Auckland was moved to alert level 3.
As alert level 2 enforces social distancing and restricts gatherings to 100 people, O-week events at Wellington's two universities have been "postponed until further notice".
Massey University of Wellington Student president Tessa Guest said their student association had organised their O-week events alongside that of Victoria University of Wellington, and had events scheduled Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night.
"All of our new Massey Wellington students were meant to be going up to the Hunter lounge at Victoria University tonight for the toga party and there were going to be events on tomorrow night and Wednesday night as well," she said.
"All of those three events are now postponed until further notice, so we're unsure what that could look like in the future – hopefully there'll be some kind of replacement but that's still be worked out."
Known as a "rite of passage" for new students, the loss of O-week events would be devastating, particularly for those new to Wellington, Guest said.
"O-week and the first few weeks of semester are a pretty crucial time to be settling into your new city, your new home and your new education provider.
"They've literally all moved in yesterday to their halls of residence, so they'll be super unsettled at this point and really gutted to not be having the experience they expected."
Guest said people living in halls would still be able to socialise and make friends, but she was concerned about new students who were living off campus.
"People who aren't in halls and maybe aren't living with family, they'll be feeling pretty isolated.
"They've probably come ready to meet those new people at all those O-week events that aren't happening this week ... I think they'd be pretty upset at this point."
She encouraged students to "stay hopeful" but in the meantime to take advantage of virtual ways of meeting people.
"If we do a good job over the next couple of days there's a chance this experience won't be completely taken away to have those really fun social times.
"Stay hopeful and look after yourselves."