Health Minister David Clark has flouted the Government's advice to exercise locally after confirming he drove to a park to go mountain biking on Thursday.

Clark was nabbed after parking his signwritten van at the car park - 2.3km from his Dunedin home - and it was spotted by someone who dobbed him in to media.

A Toyota Hiace van, emblazoned with Clark's face, was snapped parked near Signal Hill Lookout earlier on Thursday.

Clark confirmed his jaunt, saying he went for a bike ride between video conference meetings.


"As Health Minister I try to model healthy behaviour and this afternoon I decided to fit in a bike ride between video-conference meetings.

"This was my only chance to get out for some exercise in daylight hours," he said.

A shocking video of a queue for the Māngere Pak'nSave stretching out of the carpark and more than 100m down the road. Video / Facebook

However, his boss Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly advised locked down Kiwis to stay local - and if they want to exercise to do so near their home. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

The message has also been hammered home by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who has said that vehicles should only be used for grocery shopping or a medical trip.

The 6km mountain bike trail, dubbed "The Big Easy" was not challenging and was a popular local destination, Clark said.

"I know that now is not the time for people to be engaging in higher-risk exercise activities," he said.

Clark said the bike track was "not challenging" but in December 2018 a cyclist who suffered a shoulder injury in a fall had to be rescued by fire crews and ambulance staff. The cyclist had to be carried down to the car park on a stretcher.

In October last year a young mountain biker was injured during the national schools championships at Signal Hill. The teenager had to be flown to Christchurch Hospital.

The Signal Hill bike track. Photo / Tourism NZ
The Signal Hill bike track. Photo / Tourism NZ

"I don't want to give anyone the perception that I take these matters lightly," Clark said.

"This is a reminder to me to think carefully about how best to fit some exercise into my new-normal routine."

Clark's confession comes as Kiwis mark one week of the national lockdown, with restrictions imposed on everyday activities and the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Health Minister David Clark. Photo / File
Health Minister David Clark. Photo / File

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Government officials continue to tell New Zealanders to "stay home, save lives" and to only leave the house for essential needs, such as going to the supermarket, doctor, pharmacy or gas station. You can leave your house to stretch your legs, but this should be local.

"Personal walks and other active travel like cycling or scootering is fine … stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where you can get injured or lost," the Covid-19 official website says.

The lockdown is in place for four weeks at least and means everyone must stay home and self-isolate - apart from people considered part of the "essential services central workforce".

On Thursday morning Clark said Covid-19 testing would ramp up to 5000 a day "before too long".

By next week, the Government would ramp up testing by an extra 500, bringing the daily figure to 4200, he said.

But Clark said that although the Government can do 3700 tests a day, "we have never got close to using all that capacity".

Public health professor Dr Michael Baker also called for the Government to move to 5000 tests a day – "maybe more".

"This is absolutely key to containing and eliminating this virus because those cases need to be rapidly isolated and the contacts have to be traced and quarantined," he said.

He said ramping up testing also provided "much needed information on the level of infection in the community and if there are regional hot spots that need more attention".