Police are keeping a close eye on Taupo's streets ahead of the Easter weekend. Mayor David Trewavas increasingly concerned that out of towners may try to sneak into their holiday homes.

"The anecdotal evidence, especially coming out of Motuoapa, some of our beautiful lake-side settlements, they've been coming in since about Tuesday. It's most concerning," Trewavas said.

"We can understand they want to get to paradise, they want to get to Taupō to stay for Easter - of course they've traditionally done that every Easter - but we're just imploring people, please, stay home - stay safe, stay home this Easter."

Taupō has an older population, with 17% of its population over 65. There are four confirmed cases of Covid-19 already in the district and the council says lockdown means lockdown.


"It's simple, New Zealand is in lockdown. You stay home," Trewavas said. "People should not be traversing anywhere in this country, it's as simple as that."

"That's what we're most concerned about, it's the spread of this disease, it's not discriminating against anyone."

Managers of holiday accommodation say those who do travel to Taupō during the break are 'idiots'.

"The fortunate thing is the majority of owners own their holiday home as a holiday home. They're not entirely reliant on the income," said Ellie Knight, spokesperson for Airbnb Taupō.

"Nobody should be travelling anywhere at the moment, they shouldn't be travelling to the Taupō district half way through isolation.

"Fortunately, nobody that I'm aware of is planning on doing this. Of our base of 55 properties, there's not one that has voiced they're going to travel to Taupō, even for a change of scenery to stay in their holiday home, so that's a good thing."

However, some property owners rely on their Taupō rentals as a primary source of income. Companies like Airbnb are now working with them to help find solutions after the lockdown essentially wiped out tourism in the region.

"We do have about 25% who have purchased these holiday rentals as an investment, and do rely on the income," said Knight.


"One way that we've worked with some of them is to allow them out of their contracts with us, they've moved to a more permanent, long-term rental.

"Some others have been keen to set up a weekly-rate, so people can self-isolate in their properties safely."

But the message remains consistent from one of the North Island's popular holiday spots: respect the lockdown.

"You cannot swim, you cannot go out on the boat," said Mayor Trewavas.

"Who would have ever thought, coming from a beautiful summer that we've just had, that we'd be talking like this. I just don't know how to feel."

Made with funding from