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Source: Auckland Council

If you’re thinking of setting out on a lockdown jaunt this weekend, please think again. The Auckland region remains at Alert Level 3 where government guidance urges people to do stay local for exercise and recreation.

Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee Chair Councillor Alf Filipaina says Aucklanders should make the most of the parks, open spaces or beaches in their local neighbourhoods.

“Let’s up our game this weekend Aucklanders and think carefully before setting out for any exercise or physical activity.

“Combating the spread of COVID-19 relies on us exercising safely and hanging out with the people in our extended bubble only.

“It’s ok to set out from home on foot or bike for a walk, run or cycle, or driving a short distance to a local park, reserve or beach.

“It’s not ok to pack up the car and drive across the region and make a day of it,” he says.

Mayor Phil Goff agrees, reminding people that by working together and following the rules, we can contain the virus and get back to normal life as soon as possible.

“All of us have a role to play, and if we don’t do out bit, we let others down.

“The actions each of us take affects others and we need to be sure that we are not responsible for putting our family, friends, and the community, at risk.

“We are hopefully in the home straight, so please, this weekend, stay at home in your bubble, and stay local if you go out to the beach or a park for exercise.

“Keep up your physical distancing of two metres, wear a face covering if out in public, and if you have any symptoms, call your GP or Healthline about getting tested as soon as possible.

“We’ve beaten the virus before, and we’ll do it again by working together. He waka eke noa,” the Mayor said.

Police urge compliance with restrictions

District Commander Auckland City, Superintendent Karyn Malthus says as Aucklanders head in into another weekend, Police will be out in our communities ensuring compliance with the current restrictions as well as continuing to operate the 13 checkpoints in both North and South Tāmaki Makaurau.

“Police will continue to undertake road policing activities and Covid focused reassurance patrols across essential facilities such as supermarkets, pharmacies and COVID-19 testing sites.

“I think everyone understands what’s expected and the vast majority of people are doing the right thing. There are a few who don’t seem to understand or are ignoring the Level 3 restrictions and, where we can, we engage and educate them on the rules and encourage everyone to comply. We explain the ‘why.’ If absolutely necessary we will enforce those rules by prosecuting those who continue to flout the rules.

“We continue to ask people to please avoid unnecessary travel. Police is clear about expectations of those travelling through checkpoints. People will be turned around if they cannot prove their travel is permitted. 

“Please plan your trip ahead, come prepared with appropriate documentation or an exemption letter, ready to show to checkpoint staff, and expect delays during peak periods.  More information about exemptions is available on the COVID-19 website.

What’s open and what’s not

Cr Filipaina says that more people heading to popular spots like Muriwai, Piha, Waiheke, Hunua Falls and Mission Bay puts pressure on limited facilities and council staff.

“It might seem like a harmless idea to go for a drive across town and take a walk on the beach or in the forest, but problems arise when lots of people decide to go to the same spot.

“The knock-on effect is parking issues, pressure on facilities like toilets and trouble for everyone trying to maintain their two metre distance,” he says.

Playgrounds, skate and bike parks are closed; people must stay off outdoor exercise equipment, away from basketball hoops and off park benches.

Many public toilets are closed with around 200 public toilets remaining open for workers that still need to carry out essential services.

You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area, for example to go for a walk or a run, a swim at the beach or a day walk.

Regional parks are open for exercise. Tramping and mountain biking is available for experienced users that know the trails. Visitor centres are closed. Some toilets and all facilities are closed. There is no vehicle access (walk-in is ok). Campground, baches and lodges are closed.

Recreational fishing is allowed from public conservation land as long as you stay in your local area. Boating, yachting and any team sports or training are not allowed.

You can do recreational activities by yourself or with people from your bubble. Find out more about public toilets open under Alert Level 3 here. Find out more about council services here.

Alert Level 3 – Recreation frequently asked questions

Can I go to the beach or park?

You can visit a beach or park in your region – visit the closest one to home. Make sure you stay 2 metres away from others. If the beach or park is busy, go home and try again later.  Avoid using any common equipment touched by people from outside your bubble. This includes handrails, park benches or seats, exercise equipment and play equipment.

Can I visit Auckland’s regional parks?

If you live near a regional park, it is likely to be your local area for exercise and recreation. You can continue to walk, run or mountain bike (if mountain biking is allowed) there. Vehicle access, visitor centres, most toilets and any other on-park facilities are closed. 

You should not travel across the region to visit a regional park. Stay local. 

All Auckland Council campgrounds, baches and lodges are closed. Holiday parks remain open for existing customers and those with no residence to return to (like travellers). 

Can children use playgrounds and play equipment? 

All playground, play and exercise equipment is closed in Auckland under Alert Level 3. This also includes bike tracks, basketball hoops and park benches. 

Can I go mountain biking?

Mountain biking is okay if you are experienced and know the trail, and you’re in your local area. Stick to easy trails. Make sure you maintain a 2-metre distance from other people. If heading to an Auckland regional park (which is close to your home) check that car parks, gates and access are open before you set out.

Can I enjoy the outdoors, go tramping?

You can go on day walks on easy trails in your local area, within Auckland.  Note that all Auckland Council and DOC huts, campsites and lodges in the Auckland region will be closed under Alert Level 3.

Can I go hunting?

You can hunt on both private and public conservation (DOC) land, however game bird hunting is not allowed. Auckland Council hunting permits for the Hunua Ranges Regional Park have temporarily been suspended.

You need to stay within your region and stick to your bubble. Overnight trips are not allowed. You may only hunt on foot — using quad bikes, off-road bikes, helicopters, and other motorised vehicles is not allowed.

Hunters are not permitted to stay in DOC huts or campgrounds under Alert Level 3 and hunting must also be consistent with the usual local area restrictions.

Can I visit Auckland Botanic Gardens in Manurewa?

Auckland Botanic Gardens is open for exercise only. There is no vehicle access or parking. The visitor centre, toilets, drinking fountains and onsite venues are closed.

Can I go out on the water? 

Until further notice, all recreational water-based activities involving sailing boats, motorised craft or motorised equipment, are not permitted. Scuba diving is also not permitted under Alert Level 3.  Kayaking, canoeing, rowing, surfing, wind surfing and paddle boarding are permitted, however we recommend that the Auckland public undertake these activities within 200 metres from shore.   Water-based activities that present a level of risk that could result in the need for search and rescue services, are discouraged.

Anyone planning any water-based activities should check the conditions and possible changes in conditions before approaching the water.  Anybody taking to the water during Alert Level 3 should assess their competency level against the prevailing water and weather conditions (e.g. high winds, cold water temperature, large waves, or rips) to decide whether they can comfortably handle the conditions. If in doubt, we advise people to stay at home.

Remainder of New Zealand outside of Auckland, under Alert Level 2: All recreational water-based activities are permitted as long as it is done in a safe way where physical distancing and official public health guidance is applied.  We ask that all recreational water users under Level 3 and 2, keep a record of their travel and wear masks in situations where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing. 

Please refer to the Ministry of Transport’s website, Sport New Zealand’s website and Maritime NZ’s website for further information.

Can I go fishing?

You can go fishing from the beach or a wharf. You should not fish from rocks or a boat because these can result in needing assistance or rescuing. Don’t take risks that might mean rescue services have to break their bubble to help you.

Can I go horse-riding?

Yes – if you are an experienced rider and it is low risk. Stay as close to home as you can, and stay safe.

Can I play team sports or do team training?

Stay in your bubble. Team sports or training outside of your bubble are not allowed.  Avoid using any common equipment touched by people from outside your bubble.

Can I go to the gym?

Gyms are closed under Alert Level 3.