Friends living in countries already ravaged by Covid-19 helped Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern decide to close New Zealand's borders.

"[They were] saying, 'Go, just shut down, because here I am in lockdown with thousands of people dying. Just shut down'."

Looking back, Ardern said that moment was "huge" and it felt like a lifetime ago since she first learned about coronavirus.

And Ardern revealed who's in her bubble and how she unwinds at night.


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In an interview with Stuff, Ardern said she first read the word "coronavirus" over the summer as she kept up with international news.

"It feels like a lifetime ago now," she said.

"In the early days we were watching like others were."

But as alarm grew and the virus spread into other countries, the Government's network of science advisers stepped up.

The Government decided very early on to reject the herd immunity model where the majority of the population is infected but develops an immunity - but can come at the cost of thousands of lives.

"That was not us. It was never entertained by us."

Instead, they wanted opted to "flatten the curve", she told Stuff.


Ardern told the podcast she hadn't looked back too much and wondered what could have happened if they'd moved sooner.

"Because at every moment we've just worked to keep staying ahead ... and so there's lots of moments where I thought, 'If I'd known what I know now, a month ago what would we have done differently?'

"But that's really an impossible comparison to make. We in a sense have managed to do that, though, where other countries haven't."

Despite no longer having direct contact with anyone outside her bubbles, Ardern said because she still runs her own social media accounts she still has a direct line to New Zealanders.

With wider frustrations about which businesses were deemed essential and which would have to shut, Ardern said there was "probably always going to be a bit of tension" because of the speed the Government had to move.

In her home bubble in Premier House, Ardern lives with her partner Clark Gayford, their daughter Neve and her parents.

In her work bubble, Ardern said she has a "very small group of staff" and they've ensured their bubbles don't interact with anyone else.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her daughter Neve Gayford at Waitangi.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her daughter Neve Gayford at Waitangi. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website