As we all know, New Zealand is moving to Alert Level 4 at 11:59pm on Wednesday 24 March. These are unprecedented times and we want to help you know what this means for your outdoor recreation plans. The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) has sought advice from the Ministry of Health as to what Alert Level 4 means. Additionally, covid19.govt.nz
is an excellent source for a lot of information on our day-to-day lives for the next month. This update is provided to ensure a consistent approach is used by everyone so we can all play an active role in uniting against COVID-19.
The MSC is strongly encouraging all trampers, hunters and outdoor recreation enthusiasts to adhere to the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 criteria, as announced on Monday 23 March, by the New Zealand Government. MSC Chief Executive Mike Daisley reiterates that the ‘eliminate’ criteria of Level 4 requires everyone to stay home and avoid all non-essential movements.
“Unfortunately, this latest development is going to have a significant impact on many people’s plans to get out into the hills, but that’s a small price to pay for the alternative of not getting on top of the COVID-19 virus. Our message to everyone is simple: stay at home, stay out of the backcountry, put the trip plans on ice and save them for another day.
“We will all have plenty of opportunities to enjoy our wonderful country once this is over, we all want New Zealanders to stay safe and healthy.”
However, this doesn’t mean people can’t get outside and get physical activity. Daisley says, “it’s about choosing the appropriate level of recreation, maintaining some sense of physical activity for health and wellbeing benefits, but not tackling those longer challenging day trips and certainly nothing that requires an overnight stay.”
The Ministry of Health has advised the MSC to ensure everyone knows to “stop all interactions with other people outside of those in your household” and “we are asking you only spend time with those who you are in self-isolation with, keep your distance (minimum of 2-meters) from all others at all times”.
The MSC strongly advise people who do get out for exercise to stick to their local area, walk or run to the local park, go for a short walk in the local bush reserve, take your mountain bike up your local bike track, but keep your adventures close to home and always maintain the necessary social distancing measures. It’s also essential that people don’t meet up with others when they’re out getting some exercise, only take part in these activities with the people in your household.
Here’s some specific advice depending on the activities you’re interested in:
Local outdoor recreation such as short walks/runs around your neighbourhood, or your local reserve + day walks/trail runs and mountain biking
Yes, you can do these activities — You may go for a walk/run/ride or other physical exercise, but always keep a 2-metre distance from other people (not in your household) at all times.
Be extremely careful of ‘high touch items’ like handrails, avoid touching these or immediately wash/sanitise your hands afterwards if you can’t avoid it.
- Do not meet others for the activity
- Do not stop to talk to others (but give them a happy smile, say hello and check they’re ok as you pass them)
- Use personal transport to/from your local area
- Do not stop for food/water/supplies
- Select trips that allow you to compete simple return loops or out and back
- Do not ask anyone outside your household (those you’re isolating with) to pick you up, meet you, or help you in anyway
- Make sure you tell someone in your household where you’re going and how long you plan to be gone for, even down to the park or local bush reserve — take a cell phone with you so you can be contacted or contact others if you need to
- Thoroughly wash your hands on returning home.
Overnight tramping or hunting
No, you shouldn’t do any overnight outdoor recreation of any type during Alert Level 4. All Department of Conservation campsites and backcountry huts are closed. It is not appropriate to participate in these activities at the present time. The MSC suggests you put your trip plans on hold and select shorter, local and more suitable physical activities.
Roar specific hunting
No, you shouldn’t go hunting this Roar. Most impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak are likely to be hunters, who typically would be heading into the hills for the annual Roar season. However, the message is clear, Daisley says “We must eliminate any travel; every contact could spread the virus. The more you ignore this advice, the longer this will last. The Roar hunting season is effectively cancelled this year, stay at home, be with your family and ensure NZ has the best chance of getting through this.
The MSC is urging hunters to be aware of the consequences should they get into trouble, Daisley says “if you get injured, or require search and rescue help, you’re instantly putting others at risk, the number of human contacts that would occur should a land search and rescue be required would defeat the purpose of Alert Level 4 and ultimately mean we’re all in lockdown for longer.
“We want to make sure all of our health and other essential frontline services are available for the response to COVID-19.”
If you have questions about this information, please use the comments function to ask us and we’ll do our best to clarify details. We’ll update this information if required and pass on specific outdoor recreation advice from the Ministry of Health. This information might also change as the COVID-19 situation progresses and we’ll do our best to keep all of you up to date.
Kia Kaha New Zealand. We can beat this.
The MSC team.