By mid-March, a full New Zealand lock-down was imminent and at 1pm on 23 March the NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, finally announced Alert level 3 for 48 hour hours, increasing to Alert Level 4 - full lock-down. Enough time to get ready.
Our timing was almost perfect. After a few weeks in the north and east of the North Island, we found ourselves a relatively short journey to Raglan to stay with Matthew (brother-in-law) and family.
We arrived in Raglan early afternoon, finding Matthew in his restaurant/shop supping beer with three colleagues. Matthew's restaurant, Isobar, had shut down an hour before we arrived. The business had barely been open three months and Matthew was facing the possibility of a business failing through no fault of his own. All things considered, he was being pretty positive.
Another positive, Richard, the Chef had a pile of prepped quality food and there was a great stock of decent wine. The next day, he would have a stack of provisions for us to collect.
At Matthew's house our plan was to keep our distance for a few weeks. We had no idea whether Matthew and family had been exposed to Covid and likewise they had no idea about our possible exposure. As the 2nd house at the back of the property was occupied, we set up camp on the huge front lawn. We had a cooking tent, electricity and access to an outside hot shower. Rachel and I were very happy to stay in the van - our normal lifestyle. With a stack of provisions from the restaurant, we settled in for the duration.
In hindsight, we had a stroke of luck when, 24 hours later, the American resident of the back house vacated with about 10 minutes notice. We now had a very nice house at our disposal.
If it was possible to be in a perfect place for a lock-down, we had found it. We were out in the countryside on a hill, with free rein to wander on the local farmland. I decided to start running and do a bit of cycling. I also decided to get back to making sourdough bread. I kept the running going for 6 weeks.....it didn't compensate for the amount of sourdough I was consuming.
Rachel managed some cycling over lock-down, but was kept busy using her accounting skills to assist Matthew.
We have been living in our van for a few years now and travelling means you don't get to socialise an awful lots with others. So, strange as it sounds, Covid-19 lock-down gave us a full social calendar. Puzzles (jigsaws and school maths!), baking with the nieces, Sunday roasts, Easter egg hunt, pizza nights and a few bottles of wine. Nieces Ruby and Milla even arranged a Home Cinema night, including two flavours of popcorn, for the bargain entry fee of $1.
On 28 April, after five weeks at Alert level 4, lock-down was lowered to Alert level 3. Restaurants were allowed to open for takeaway and shops were allowed to sell non-essential items online. 16 days later, at Alert level 2, restaurants were allowed to open with socially distanced table service, shops were allowed to open, hairdressers started cutting and freedom of movement restored, all with easy to follow social distancing measures.
This meant it was time to jump in the van and continue our travels.
The lock-down was stressful at times, but mainly from worrying about family and watching developments around the globe. As luck would have it, we happen to be in the one country that, for the moment, has halted the spread of the virus. We realise how lucky we are to be back on the road and send love to all who are still trapped in Covid-19 lock-down, wherever you may be.