By Michelle Cooke of RNZ

New Zealanders are mostly staying at home during lockdown, with trips to the supermarket down by 54 per cent and transport hubs by 84 per cent, according to a new data report from Google.

Google has been tracking New Zealanders' movements to show how often we are going to work, parks, supermarkets and transport hubs during lockdown.

The tech giant recently released community mobility reports for 131 countries, saying it had heard from public health officials that the data would be useful in their response to Covid-19.

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The report for New Zealand is based on Sunday, March 29, the fourth day of lockdown. It compares data from that Sunday with the average Sunday between January 3 and February 6 of this year.

Many of RNZ's reporters are working from home during lockdown Photo / Supplied
Many of RNZ's reporters are working from home during lockdown Photo / Supplied

It showed New Zealanders' trips to retail and recreation facilities, such as restaurants, cafes, shopping centres and libraries were down 91 per cent.

Trips to groceries and pharmacies were down 54 per cent, trips to parks, beaches and public gardens were down by 78 per cent and visits to transport hubs, such as bus and train stations, had dropped by 84 per cent.

Visits to workplaces were down by 59 per cent and the trend for "places of residence" was up by 22 per cent. The data is broken down for regions at the bottom of this article.

The reports were generated from people who have their location history setting turned on, "so may or may not represent the exact behaviour of a wider population".

Google said it used "differential privacy" which added artificial noise to the datasets, which enabled "high quality results without identifying any individual person". It would not disclose how many people the reports were based on.

In a blog post, Google chief health officer Karen DeSalvo and Google GEO senior vice-president Jen Fitzpatrick explained how Google used aggregated, anonymised data showing how busy certain types of places were.

"In addition to other resources public health officials might have, we hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, this information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.

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Empty streets across New Zealand (clockwise, from top left) in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Photo / RNZ
Empty streets across New Zealand (clockwise, from top left) in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Photo / RNZ

"Similarly, persistent visits to transportation hubs might indicate the need to add additional buses or trains in order to allow people who need to travel room to spread out for social distancing.

"Ultimately, understanding not only whether people are travelling, but also trends in destinations, can help officials design guidance to protect public health and essential needs of communities."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

RNZ compared the data for New Zealand to reports for 10 other countries which reported their first confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the same day as New Zealand or the day before.

All of the countries have enforced some sort of quarantine or lockdown.

Of the 10 countries, New Zealand reported the highest level of reduced travel to all categories listed in the Google data reports.

RNZ has approached Ministry of Health for comment.

How New Zealand's regions compare

Auckland

Retail and recreation -89 per cent

Supermarkets and pharmacies - 55 per cent

Parks - 70 per cent

Transit stations - 83 per cent

Workplace - 64 per cent

Residential +25 per cent

Bay of Plenty
Retail and recreation -92 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -51 per cent
Parks -86 per cent
Transit stations -83 per cent
Workplace -52 per cent
Residential +22 per cent

Canterbury
Retail and recreation -90 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -56 per cent
Parks -83 per cent
Transit stations -90 per cent
Workplace -60 per cent
Residential +22 per cent

How New Zealand's data compares to other countries Photo / RNZ
How New Zealand's data compares to other countries Photo / RNZ

Gisborne

Retail and recreation -100 per cent

Supermarkets and pharmacies -48 per cent

Parks -88 per cent

Transit stations - Not enough data

Workplace -47 per cent

Residential - Not enough data

Hawke's Bay
Retail and recreation -94 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -53 per cent
Parks -78 per cent
Transit stations -84 per cent
Workplace -51 per cent
Residential +31 per cent

Manawatu-Whanganui
Retail and recreation -93 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -50 per cent
Parks -76 per cent
Transit stations -84 per cent
Workplace -54 per cent
Residential +33 per cent

Marlborough
Retail and recreation -92 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -60 per cent
Parks -83 per cent
Transit stations -91 per cent
Workplace -25 per cent
Residential - Not enough data

Nelson
Retail and recreation -100 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -60 per cent
Parks -81 per cent
Transit stations - Not enough data
Workplace -61 per cent
Residential +4 per cent

Northland
Retail and recreation -93 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -55 per cent
Parks -86 per cent
Transit stations -86 per cent
Workplace -52 per cent
Residential +32 per cent

Otago
Retail and recreation -95 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -62 per cent
Parks -82 per cent
Transit stations -91 per cent
Workplace -64 per cent
Residential +39 per cent

Southland
Retail and recreation -96 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -53 per cent
Parks -83 per cent
Transit stations - Not enough data
Workplace -48 per cent
Residential +21 per cent

Taranaki
Retail and recreation -95 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -52 per cent
Parks -86 per cent
Transit stations -Not enough data
Workplace -51 per cent
Residential +17 per cent

Tasman
Retail and recreation -90 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -67 per cent
Parks -89 per cent
Transit stations - Not enough data
Workplace -54 per cent
Residential - Not enough data

Waikato
Retail and recreation -94 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -55 per cent
Parks -84 per cent
Transit stations -82 per cent
Workplace -57 per cent
Residential +23 per cent

Wellington
Retail and recreation -93 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -54 per cent
Parks -63 per cent
Transit stations -84 per cent
Workplace -62 per cent
Residential +20 per cent

West Coast
Retail and recreation -100 per cent
Supermarkets and pharmacies -61 per cent
Parks -87 per cent
Transit stations - Not enough data
Workplace -54 per cent
Residential - Not enough data

- RNZ