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COVID-19 and the outdoors
Advice on outdoor recreation and exercise
Exercise and recreation is an important part of maintaining our health and wellbeing. However, there is still a high risk of transmission of COVID-19 under Alert Level 3 if we come into contact with others, touch common equipment or surfaces, or need rescuing or medical care.
Under Alert Level 3 you can do outdoor activities that are local, safe, and do not involve interaction with other people outside your bubble.
Stay safe. Do low-risk activities, so you don’t need rescuing or medical care. You should also keep a 2-metre distance from people who aren’t in your bubble.
You can do more activities at Alert Level 3 than you could under Alert Level 4 but only if you’re experienced and do them safely.
Find out what activities you can do at the current Alert Level at the COVID-19 Outdoors website - supported by the Walking Access Commission.
Don't take up new activities, or expose yourself or your bubble to any risk. Use your common sense — stay local, stay safe.
Where you can exercise
Stick to your local area. For example, go to your nearest beach or park, not your favourite one. Staying overnight at a bach or holiday home is not permitted.
You should drive as short a distance as you can and still do the activity.
If you live on a regional boundary, this might mean travelling to a neighbouring region. This is fine as long as it’s still local and a close distance from your home.
We urge everyone to remain at home at all times where possible. Spending time in nature will help keep you fit and relaxed. But, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, choose a quiet location close to home, keep a safe distance from others and follow all government guidance.
When you want some fresh air, you may go for a short walk or bike ride nearby, while ensuring that you maintain at least 2 metres distance from anyone else.
You should not stop to talk to people or arrange to meet people.
If you can’t maintain 2 metres distance you probably shouldn’t be doing that trail (even if it is open).
You should not do any activities with increased risk such as off-track tramping or hunting, so as not to risk adding to the overload of medical services.
Sport New Zealand
Sport New Zealand have released formal guidance on what sport and recreational activities are allowed at each alert level.
Department of Conservation
DOC has closed all huts and campsites, and asks no one uses these until further notice.
DOC accommodation should not be used for self-isolation.
For everyone’s safety, at Alert Level 3 people should not head into the backcountry or remote areas, nor should they undertake outdoor activities that would expose them to higher levels of risk.
Hut wardens will not be in place, communications may be limited, and we do not want to place unnecessary strain on health services.
New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR) is asking people to stick to simple outdoor exercise and avoid areas where they could get lost or require search and rescue. NZSAR want to ensure that emergency services are available to help those in the greatest need.
Hunting only allowed on private land
Hunting is only allowed on private land, with the landowner’s permission while New Zealand is at COVID-19 Alert Level 3.
Hunting on public conservation land will not be allowed until New Zealand returns to Alert Level 2.
There will be no duck hunting under Alert Level 3. The game bird season will open on the second Saturday after New Zealand moves to Alert Level 2, except if that date falls on 30 May. The season will also end later. The game bird season will not open at Queen’s Birthday weekend specifically to avoid Moving Day on 1 June as it’s an important date in the rural calendar when large numbers of farmers move to new farms.
You can fish from land but keep it local
Under Alert Level 3 you are allowed to fish from a wharf or the shore but don’t cast off the rocks or fish from a boat. Boating is not allowed. Keep it local - go to your nearest fishing spot, not your favourite fishing spot.
Trail walking during COVID-19 lockdown - advice from Te Araroa
COVID-19 Response website - from Recreation Aotearoa and its members
What NZWAC is doing
Please note all Walking Access Commission staff are working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak and will be strictly adhering to the Government guidance and rules available at www.covid19.govt.nz. To talk with any of our staff during this time, please use email or phone. We can also video-conference via Zoom.
Two of our staff are currently working in the National Crisis Management Centre, helping with the Government's response to COVID-19.
Please visit the Unite Against COVID-19 website for up-to-date and accurate information on what we all need to do to stand strong together against this disease.
We strongly recommend that if you need to spend some time in the outdoors, you choose a short walk or cycle close to your home. This means that many tracks, paths and walkways will not be suitable for use during the current period. Ensure that any outdoor exercise you choose to do allows you to keep a minimum of two metres apart from any other user at all times.
The following NZWAC Gazetted Walkways are formally closed due to COVID-19, however most of our Walkways are unsuitable for use at the current time:
- Annavale Track
- Barnicoat Walkway - open for walkers but closed for mountain bikers
- Belmont Walkway
- Cooks Cove Walkway
- Dry Acheron Track
- Hakarimata Walkway
- Honeycomb Rock Walkway
- Hurunui Walkway (Manuka Bay Track)
- Kaitaia Walkway (already closed due to kauri dieback)
- Point Elizabeth Walkway
- Rakaia Gorge Walkway
We hope you and your loved ones stay well during this difficult time. Kia tūpato!