Keeping love's passion alive can take hard work and healthy doses of romance.

Even more so when cooped up together under Covid-19 lockdown.

The Herald on Sunday interviewed five Kiwi couples at the beginning of lockdown. How have they fared?

Kersti Ward and Justin Spick: young couple apart

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Kersti Ward and Justin Spick have had to endure trials while apart during lockdown but say it's brought them closer. Photo / Supplied
Kersti Ward and Justin Spick have had to endure trials while apart during lockdown but say it's brought them closer. Photo / Supplied

Kersti Ward, 22, and boyfriend Justin Spick, 21, started lockdown hundreds of kilometres apart and with an important commitment not to cheat on each other.

Netflix cheat, that is.

Ward - spending lockdown on her family's Taranaki farm - earlier told the Herald on Sunday she gets grumpy when the pair promise to watch a show together and then Spick skips ahead by himself.

So the question is, did her beau - who stayed in Auckland and is now back at work in alert level 3 - violate his sacred Netflix vow?

"He didn't thankfully – so he's in my good books," Ward confirmed.

Instead, the lovebirds used a Google Chrome internet browser extension called Netflix Party - that allows the couple to pause and play the movie together - to enjoy "movie nights".

They also FaceTime called nearly every day and play online games, such as Cards Against Humanity in which they tried to make each other laugh with risque or politically incorrect comments.

Yet sadly for the couple, they still face an extended period of FaceTime rather than face-to-face time.

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Covid-19 didn't enter their homes, but its far-reaching effects did. Ward lost her marketing job after her retail employer slashed costs.

She now plans to wait until at least alert level 2 to reunite with Spick in Auckland when job hunting will hopefully be easier.

"It's hard to wait the extra weeks, but we know the distance is not a forever thing," Ward says.

And absence has certainly made their hearts grow fonder.

"When someone is really accessible you don't get the opportunity to miss them," she says.

"Whereas this time apart has been like, 'OK I really do miss him now'."

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Normally both independent, Ward's job loss led the couple to talk more often and on a deeper level.

And while Ward thought about joining the McDonald's drive-through queues in New Plymouth on the first day of alert level 3, hers and Spicks' real passion is for Dominion Rd noodles.

So did Spick rush out to Dominion Rd without her?

"No – at least, if he did, he didn't tell me, which was probably a wise idea."

Katie Mattice and Ryan Minett: young couple together

Katie Mattice and Ryan Minett started lockdown in a whirlwind of love and romance and the shine hasn't worn off after four weeks cooped together. Photo / Supplied
Katie Mattice and Ryan Minett started lockdown in a whirlwind of love and romance and the shine hasn't worn off after four weeks cooped together. Photo / Supplied

Canadian Katie Mattice, 31, and Brit Ryan Minett, 26, set off on a crazy, whirlwind romance in February before the lockdown cooped them up in the same Wellington flat.

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"It was supposed to be a casual thing and now we're stuck together," Mattice earlier told the Herald on Sunday.

If that wasn't complicated enough, Minett is Mattice's ex-boyfriend's best friend.

So close to four weeks later, are they living in a bed of roses or desperate to burst out of lockdown?

Luckily, Minett performs well in key areas: "He's clean and tidy," Mattice says.

"And he's been baking up a storm - I'm definitely coming out of this quarantine fatter than I came in."

That's meant life has gone well together.

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"It's so easy, he's easy to get along with," she says.

The couple has also used the time to practise guitar and painting and launch Mattice's Tic Tok social media career.

A hairdresser with Kiwi salon chain Vivo, she's given Minett fashionable "manlights" - hair highlights for men - and proudly posted her handiwork online.

But the pair still welcomed the relative freedom of alert level 3.

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

While Minett and Mattice had earlier been friends in Australia, they were recently living separate lives in Auckland and Wellington, until Minett drove down on what was supposed to be a passing visit.

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"A few glasses of Canadian Club changed everything", Mattice earlier said.

Having fallen in love, Minett decided to stick around in Wellington, but the lockdown arrived before he could find a job and his own flat.

That had been a lot to deal with so fast. They planned to reassess whether to live together or move into separate houses once the lockdown finished so they could "date like normal people".

Now alert level 3 has arrived, Mattice says the couple has no concrete plans.

With both being on visas in a foreign country in such uncertain times, life might pull them apart anyway.

But for now, alert level 3 has given them the chance to rewind and pretend it was five weeks ago, before lockdown.

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"We've gone and had wine in the park, trying to create some first dates," Mattice says.

Lizzie and Rob Lee: young parents

Lizzie and Rob Lee with sons Spencer and Harrison have enjoyed the family time but say alert level 3 came just in time. Photo / Supplied
Lizzie and Rob Lee with sons Spencer and Harrison have enjoyed the family time but say alert level 3 came just in time. Photo / Supplied

High-school sweethearts and young parents Lizzie and Rob Lee, both 34, had been spending more time together than usual during the lockdown.

But as it was filled with nappy changes and arts-and-crafts lessons, it wasn't exactly the romantic kind.

It meant alert level 3 couldn't have come soon enough for the couple, especially Rob who was on "daddy daycare" duties most of the day for 2-year-old Spencer and almost 5-month-old Harrison.

"I was running out of arts and craft ideas – I was doing paper dolls holding hands the other day – that's about as good as it got," Rob says.

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"Spencer's over my arts and craft.

Rob Lee on daddy daycare duties. Photo / Supplied
Rob Lee on daddy daycare duties. Photo / Supplied

"We were really starting to struggle, especially for our toddler who can't understand why he can't see his friends and why he can't go to the park," Lizzie adds.

Now the couple has been able to expand their bubble to include Lizzie's parents, who now look after the boys from 9am-1pm each weekday. That's bought Lizzie and Rob four hours alone at home together.

Unfortunately, it's had to be spent on work. Lizzie is busier than ever as marketing manager of fitness chain Les Mills, while Rob has been planning how to reopen his Form Physio clinic in Auckland city once alert level 2 rolls around.

"We are probably spending less and less time together now," Lizzie says.

"We are using all our positive energy to either put into our work or our kids that we don't really have anything left for each other, which is quite sad."

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Even their date nights at home have dwindled from "buying extra special wine and some fancier meat and doing decorations" to now being more budget-conscious due to the uncertain future.

But if the romantic love is harder to make time for, the family love is thriving.

Cooking classes hit a hiccup. Photo / Supplied
Cooking classes hit a hiccup. Photo / Supplied

Harrison has grown his first two teeth, while Spencer has taken to browsing photos of his daycare buddies, who he is missing.

Family walks are an entrenched tradition now with Rob carrying Harrison in a harness while Lizzie scoots with Spencer, who makes sure he waves at all the passing motorbike riders, whom he considers his equals on the road.

Emily and Luke Orr: newlyweds

Newly weds Emily and Luke Orr might have missed out on their honeymoon but they've laid stronger foundations for their future together. Photo / Supplied
Newly weds Emily and Luke Orr might have missed out on their honeymoon but they've laid stronger foundations for their future together. Photo / Supplied

Hamilton couple Emily, 29, and Luke Orr, 34, married just in time. They tied the knot in the middle of February, meaning all their guests could attend.

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Yet their honeymoon plans - to Japan and Bali - fell victim to coronavirus.

But while the romantic side of the new marriage might have been dashed by lockdown, it has helped the couple put in strong foundations on which to build their life together.

Luke, who owns a painting company, used the time to add value to their house by repainting every room, while Emily, who owns FastFit Personal Training, has actually attracted new clients.

She has taken to live-streaming fitness classes on her Facebook page every day and has even got new members from Australia and elsewhere overseas, potentially offering her a new way of doing business in the future.

The lockdown and arrival of Luke's teenage daughter Maddie from another relationship also gave the young family the chance to begin a new tradition: Harry Potter movie nights.

Maddie's presence was also a boon for the couple's border collie, who was showered with attention and even trained up at completing obstacle courses and jumping.

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Emily said it was great to spend the time together during lockdown but she'll also be waiting for a chance to go on a real honeymoon.

Rae and Gavin McGregor: older couple

Gavin and Rae McGregor have run low on good books to read and face an even longer time away from resuming their daily lives than most of us. Photo / Supplied
Gavin and Rae McGregor have run low on good books to read and face an even longer time away from resuming their daily lives than most of us. Photo / Supplied

Authors Rae, 78, and Gavin, 82, McGregor didn't panic-buy at the supermarket before the lockdown.

Instead, they panic-borrowed from the library.

Yet with the libraries still closed, the Auckland couple - who have been married for 58 years - are now dangerously low on new books.

Rae is even contemplating a new read-through of English novelist Jane Austen's entire collection.

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On the plus side, Gavin will likely restart work on a book he was researching about the MV Kaitawa, which disappeared near Cape Reinga with all crew in 1966.

That's because he was inundated with new information after featuring in the Herald on Sunday.

Lots of readers reached out to him, saying they knew a loved one on board the ship, while others offered him documents, including a collection of Herald newspapers reporting on the search for the vessel in the week after it went missing.

Alert level 3 has also given the couple the chance to again meet others from their retirement village from a safe distance, while Rae's tradition of sending a joke to her friends each morning has proven a hit.

However - despite earlier finding the lockdown hadn't affected them as much as others because of their many hobbies - the couple were now taking it harder.

That's because while younger Kiwis will start to return to something resembling normal life when alert level 2 arrives, older Kiwis could remain in virtual lockdown for much longer as an added safety precaution.

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It means sitting out from their many voluntary roles and Gavin's beloved sailing - including his role as skipper of the Maritime Museum's heritage sailing ship the Ted Ashby - for a long time, perhaps until a vaccine arrives.

It's left them wondering when they will again enjoy a romantic night at the theatre or a restaurant.

"That part is a bit miserable, but we are doing our best to get around it," Gavin says.