A look back at lockdown

How was your lockdown? It’s the question everyone is asking each other now that we can move about and catch up with friends and family again. For the MCD team of writers, being in lockdown meant lots of local exploration, some new studies, and plenty of daydreaming of future travel.



Heather Whelan

Lockdown caught partner Malcolm and I in the process of searching for a new motorhome; we’ve sold our nine-metre bus and want something smaller. With normal life on hold, like everyone else, we turned to other pursuits. Luckily, I had plenty of books waiting to be read, or re-read, so on wet days I was immersed in other worlds. One that seemed particularly relevant was A Gentleman In Moscow by Amor Towles. If the gentleman of the story, a Russian aristocrat, could endure a sentence of life under house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, then surely, we could cope with a few weeks at home? 

We live close to walking tracks beside the Hatea River, so we could at least enjoy getting out in nature. We walked in one direction to A. H. Reed Park, where a loop track took us past kauri and a waterfall. While we were there, we took a side-track to check on the status of trees we’d helped plant last winter. The dry summer had taken its toll on some, but most were thriving, almost hidden amongst a swathe of weeds. Other times we hopped on our bikes and explored the local cycle tracks, getting as far as the harbour at Onerahi. At level three we drove across town to Barge Park, for walks with different views, feeling lucky to live in such a beautiful country. 

When the lockdown eased to Level 2, we were soon back on Trade Me, continuing the search for our next motorhome, and planning where we’ll go when we buy one. First stop will probably be Kerikeri, where we’ll enjoy some of the things we’ve always taken for granted: the markets, cafes and galleries and the freedom to visit them.



Lisa Jansen

I have to admit things were a bit scary when the lockdown was first announced. Campgrounds were closing, and we were told to go home – which didn’t consider people like me for whom their camper is their home. But after I found my safe haven at the South Brighton Holiday Park, I actually enjoyed lockdown. 

The team at the campground did an excellent job looking after everyone, and I made some new friends, including my ‘bubble buddies’ Baxter and his owner Nicki. We went for daily walks on the beach and along the estuary, and I also got a bunch of work and projects done – including launching my new Podcast, Life Done Differently. 

I thought I would struggle being stuck in one place and not being allowed to do my favourite activities. But I enjoyed the time in many ways. It was nice having a base for a change, and not having to decide every day where to stay for the night. 

However, I was also happy that I could start making my way to the winterless north before it got too cold in the South.



Jill Malcolm 

Lockdown was a valuable experience. Even though my workload, and therefore remuneration, dropped significantly, my life was greatly enriched. It was blessedly quiet. I had time to reflect. I went through old stuff and threw most of it out. 

I intended to deep clean my house but never got around to it and decided it didn’t matter. Every day after lunch I rested and read and then walked along the beach and deserted streets. I thought about my life. I spent some delicious time in the garden. I connected with friends by phone and with neighbours (at a distance) that I’d struggled to find spare time for in the past. 

I felt as if I was floating from day to day and the theme that kept popping into my mind was that this was the way life was meant to be. I wasn’t bored for a minute and I didn’t miss anything because I knew it was for a finite time. 

And now that it’s done, I’m not going back to the old "normal". I have a new one.



Malcolm Street

Living in Australia, self-isolation for me probably started a bit earlier than for most people. I’d been in Auckland for the Covi Show over the weekend of 13-15 March. That was when the New Zealand Government announced that anyone arriving from overseas was going to have to self-isolate for 14 days. Within 24 hours the Australian Government had followed suit. 

I arrived prior to the New Zealand quarantine, so I was able to attend the Covi Show and then spend a few days travelling around Auckland doing a bit of work for MCD. The good folk at Wilderness Rentals had loaned me one of their Helix 2 motorhomes which was great, especially as at the time a motorhome was considered to be living in ‘self-isolation’. 

Little did I know then that my sojourn was going to be the last for quite a while. During that time, I did give myself a bit of a holiday, spending a few hours exploring Shakespear Regional Park just north of Auckland. When I flew home to a few days later, it was straight home to quarantine. 

In our house, we have a guest bedroom and a guest bathroom which I used for self-isolation and whilst Mrs Malcolm understood the need to lead slightly separate lives, the family cat wasn’t quite as cooperative 

I already work from home so that wasn’t a lifestyle change, but getting out after my self-isolation for photo shoots on caravans and motorhomes was more problematic. 

Since the lockdown in Australia hasn’t been as rigid as New Zealand, I have been able to do a few on a limited basis since that is classed as ‘work’. 

Apart from food and general shopping, the only real non-work-related reason for getting out of the house has been for exercise. It’s been funny to observe just how many people have suddenly became interested in getting fit. Our local bike shops (which, along with hardware shops have been allowed to open) have been run off their feet with both new purchases and bike servicing. 

We are not doing too badly in all these difficult times, but one thing I am looking forward to is when the so-called ‘Trans-Tasman Bubble’ will be activated! 



Jackie Norman

One of the things we loved best when we first hit the road was the notion that we could escape anything. Floods, fires, earthquakes – whatever the disaster, we could just drive away. This, though? We could never have imagined. For the first time in four years on the road it made us feel vulnerable. All of a sudden, we were the kind of people nobody wanted, just because of our van! 

There is always a positive to every situation, however and mercifully, a lovely family we house-sit for offered us their empty holiday home in Napier. It was an area we had never visited up until then and we jumped at the chance to explore our new bubble, even in its limited capacity. 

We walked along Ahuriri Beach every day, as far as Perfume Point and back again and just breathing in the sea air and enjoying all the bird life really helped to keep us upbeat and appreciate our surroundings. Napier is gloriously sunny a lot of the time so that really helped us to stay positive too. For us, being freelancers working from home, our work didn't really change – in fact we were busier than ever, as I also managed to squeeze in a correspondence course and gain a qualification in nutrition! 

Being stationary for so long really made us think about what we want for the future. Do we want to keep travelling, or do we want to be 'normal' and live in a house again? We've been round and round in circles and we still can't decide! But like many of us, we are counting our blessings and look forward to exploring our Hawke's Bay home more fully now we can.



Elisabeth Easther 

What a strange time we’ve lived through, a genuine world first. As we emerge from our bubbles, in New Zealand at least, we’re all wondering how the world will change over the coming years, in every respect, but especially for travel. 

I have a significant birthday this year and very unpatriotically I’d intended to take my son on a snorkel odyssey around some of Indonesia’s finest marine environments. I had it all booked – in my mind’s eye at least. Happily I’d not yet booked anything in reality, as the birthday isn’t till September. I had also said yes to a cycle tour around Rajasthan with my partner – it was for a travel story, and I was beside myself with excitement at the prospect of a second international installment of birthday shenanigans. And who knows if that opportunity will ever present itself again? At least not before another significant birthday rolls around in a decade. 

But these are minor bumps in my road, compared to what others have endured, but it does make me think - how will I celebrate half a century closer to home, and support local tourism operators while I’m at it. 

My new plans include returning to The Chatham Islands, Stewart Island is also high on my list, I’ve also fantasized about riding all our scenic trains and taking my bike. Perhaps spending a few nights at The Chateau, riding and walking round there, then Wellington for a night, a decadent meal, a ferry ride followed by some pedaling around Picton and the surrounding Sounds. Then on to Kaikoura again by rail, for a whale of a time. Christchurch also calls, I’ve long dreamed of taking the TranzAlpine to the West Coast. I’d need a good couple of weeks to do it all justice – but that’s what I did, while stuck in my bubble, I imagined in manner of adventures and it helped make lockdown feel less confined.



Ewan McDonald 

There were a couple of flaws in this thinking. One, I’m a travel writer, and there’s not too much travel to write about when you are confined to an inner-city Auckland section that can be circumnavigated in 42 paces. 

Two, while it was wonderful to hear they’d finally completed the 374-year project known as the Waikato Expressway that runs from my driveway to my daughter Cate’s place in Hamilton, it was even more frustrating to know I couldn’t use it until Level 2 – whenever that was going to be. 

But you can’t keep a granddad away from his small people. The ‘teddy bear hunt’ was our way of communicating. Every day, I’d take Teddy Bear on my walk and send a snapshot to my grandkids, Jamie, Ethan, Blair, and Nicholas, of what Teddy had got up to that day. 

Teddy actually had a great lockdown. He got behind the wheel of a car. He played hopscotch. He rocked on a swing. He rode the neighbour’s mountain bike. He baked muffins. He offered to critique the occasional merlot. The lockdown might have been tough on us people, but I think quite a few teddies out there had the time of their lives! 



Bill Savidan

My early morning walk, Thursday 26 March was quite different. No cars to dodge crossing the road, very few people about, and an almost eerie silence. Some walkers spend their time listening to music or catching up with the news. I use the time to plan my day and sort out unresolved issues. Something about the jiggle-joggle of walking helps get the loose ends sorted. 

At the start, planning ahead was easy. Chores around the house were divided into two main groups, those that were achievable because I had all the ‘ingredients’ and those that couldn’t proceed until Bunnings re-opened. 

After a week or so, as the lockdown routine settled in, I felt flat. No spontaneous contact with family, friends and neighbours; no trips to the movies or cafe lunches, no short holidays in the caravan to look forward to. I could walk to the beach, I could walk along the beach, but I couldn’t stay at the beach. Worst of all, there was no weekend rugby on TV! What was a chap to do? 

Throughout my life I have always looked ahead. Not a lot of time has been spent looking backwards. My view of life is optimistic, and an important aspect of this approach is having things to look forward to. The anticipation of upcoming events keeps my spirits high. By curtailing many of the pastimes I enjoy, Covid-19 has caused me to adjust my sights, to plan further ahead for some things and to try different activities so I keep positive by looking ahead.


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