In a region with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, one campsite has announced all are welcome to visit this summer.
This morning Tatapouri Bay campsite in Tairāwhiti Gisborne took to Instagram, sharing a large text graphic reading "ALL WELCOME", writing that they would accept all guests regardless of vaccination status.
"That means unvaccinated and vaccinated guests," the post specified. "We trust that guests will treat each other with respect."
Although the decision was one they "never imagined making", the post said they "had to trust our gut".
Signed off by owners Nathan Foon (son of Gisborne's former mayor Meng Foon) and Shanti Probst, the post said the company's founding values of "community and connection" had driven the decision.
"We have decided to stand by what we believe in, which is to make everyone feel welcome."
At 71 per cent fully vaccinated, Tairāwhiti's DHB has one of the lowest vaccination rates in New Zealand.
As a result, Gisborne and surrounding regions like Ōpotiki, Wairoa and Whakatāne will transition to red of the Covid-19 framework, a level that works to protect people and promote vaccinations.
Under red, accommodation like hotels, motels, Airbnb properties, DoC accommodation and campgrounds do not have to ask for proof of vaccination and have no limits on capacity.
However, individual operators can enforce their own vaccine pass requirements and places from Hotel Britomart to Spring Creek Holiday Park have opted for "no jab, no stay" policies.
For accommodation providers, restrictions really only come into play if they have customer-facing food and beverage services or want to hold events.
As a business that will not follow My Vaccine Pass requirements, Tatapouri Bay will have to run its on-site cafe contactless, while sunrise yoga would be capped at 10 people under red and 50 people under orange.
When it came to events, Probst said they would be cancelled until everyone could safely participate.
"We are standing our ground and not holding events where people are going to feel separated."
Probst admitted this could be years, or months from now, but said they did not want to "close people out".
Safety was important, the pair said, and alongside a risk assessment and a health and safety plan, they said cleaning would be of the highest standards.
"We are still going to follow all Government rules; we aren't breaking any rules," Probst said.
In addition, Probst said they had several stand-alone accommodation options that could be run contactless.
For some campers, this would not be enough to assuage concerns.
Ashleigh Bennett, a 30-year-old HR professional who had planned to stay at Tatapouri over New Year said her group of 10 friends were "pretty disappointed" after seeing the post.
"As soon as I saw it I was like, absolutely no way am I comfortable sharing facilities with people who aren't vaccinated," she said.
Bennet said despite all members of her group being fully vaccinated, they would all request a full refund and bring in the New Year somewhere else.
According to Bennett, the announcement "came across as anti-vax".
"Rather than quietly following Government advice, they really announced how 'all are welcome here,'" she added.
Probst and Foon said they weren't for or against vaccination but instead believed "everyone should have a choice".
"We don't want to fuel this divide or made decisions for anyone," Probst told the Herald.
Later in the day, Tatapouri Bay's Instagram post was shared by Safe Spaces NZ, an account dedicated to "creating safe spaces for all New Zealanders who support unity and freedoms".
The account links to Kiwis For Choice, an online platform that lists businesses that "do not discriminate based on vaccine status".
Later this afternoon, Tatapouri Bay reshared the Safe Space NZ's Instagram story.
Probst said they had already received support for the decision. Already, more than 78 people have commented on the post, the majority expressing gratitude, while others said they would make a point to support the business as a result of their stance.
"Incredible incredible leadership. Your community will be so grateful for amazing people like yourselves. Unity," wrote one user.
"Awesome business values, will be supporting," commented another.
The move by Tatapouri Bay is, according to Auckland University epidemiologist Rod Jackson, one of the reasons Kiwis should carefully consider where they spend summer.
"This is the issue in modelling; they don't take into account the fact that, although 90 per cent of eligible people are vaccinated, many of the unvaccinated are congregating together," something Jackson said increases the risk.
For example, the risk associated with a campsite where one in every 10 campers is unvaccinated is vastly different than if that campsite becomes favoured by anti-vaxxers, regardless of whether that was the business's intention.
"Basically what those businesses have decided to do is not to actually manage the risk," Jackson said.
"You're putting the vast majority of your clients or customers at risk. I think it's crazy."
Fortunately, Jackson said, vaccination presented a way to protect yourself and others.
"If you're vaccinated and you only interact with vaccinated people, you drastically reduce your risk of getting infected."
According to recent modelling by Dr Leighton Watson, unvaccinated people are 25 times more likely to be hospitalised for Covid-19 – and about three times more likely to contract the virus compared to those who have had two Pfizer shots.