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COVID-19
Population Report.

How we are behaving as a population from before and through COVID-19 during Queen's Birthday weekend.

1 June 2020

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How is our population data produced?

Data Ventures is working together with the major telecommunication companies in New Zealand.

Using the aggregated and anonymised mobile data[*] provided to us, along with Stats NZ expertise, Data Ventures has created population estimates of residents and visitors in New Zealand every hour down to suburb level. Read more in the footnotes page.

Population – a view of the whole nation

As our population reacts to the environment of COVID-19, there is evidence of large increases in movement around New Zealand. Because of that, it’s now worth looking at our country as a whole. To do that we have highlighted international and domestic population numbers, as well as our national mobility index[*] as we continue through COVID-19 Alert levels.

To help explain what the numbers mean below, we describe domestic population as people who are outside of their local tourism region. These regions are defined by Regional Tourism Organisations.

Domestic population

107K

On average increase between
lvl 2 and lvl 3

International population

2,038

On average decrease between
lvl 2 and lvl 3

Domestic travellers last week within NZ passed the numbers observed before we went into Alert Level 4 lockdown. With the excitement of the first “normal” long weekend since Level 2, domestic traveller numbers rose rapidly as Kiwis looked to make the most of an opportunity to get away. International travellers remain constant, reflecting the visitors still present in New Zealand that arrived prior to the border closures.

National mobility index

75%

INCREASE IN MOBILITY NATIONALLY AT
LVL 2 WHEN COMPARED TO LVL 3

Having more time to settle into a routine in Alert Level 2, activity across New Zealand is returning to pre-lockdown levels. Kiwis are enjoying the relaxation of restrictions as they move about, return to work, and begin to revert to pre-lockdown habits.

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

Our population – average population

As we all settle into what is a new set of habits, it's important we understand what these new habits look like.

On this page of the report we have sampled average hourly representations of population estimates in New Zealand around six key areas across COVID-19 in New Zealand. We have used the population patterns previous to COVID-19 to identify these areas. Refer to our notes[*] at the end of this report to understand a bit more detail of what each areas/behaviours of New Zealand these graphs represent.

Percentages below represent the difference of average midday (12pm) peak population counts in lockdown.

retail

recreational

residential

tourism

transit

workplace

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

Our population – before COVID‑19 and now

By looking at hourly population counts[*] across the country, we can get a good idea of how behaviour has changed in response to COVID-19. The data presented here uses hourly population counts for six types of areas[*] in New Zealand - retail, transit, residential, tourism, workplace and recreational.

In this part of the report, we cover off three periods: a normal week in 2019[*], two weeks ago, and one week ago. We have broken out the comparisons into two: one comparing last week to a normal week in 2019 to see the changes compared to last year, and the other comparing what has happened over the last two weeks. From doing this, these are the insights we have discovered.

Uses of these insights: The comparison to a normal week in 2019 can be used to offset other datasets designed prior to COVID-19. The figures contained in this report could be used to make adjustments to previously known datasets’ values. The two week comparison allows you to measure a sentiment of change over a shorter period. Footnotes

retail

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

In our third week at Alert Level 2 we see activity around retail locations almost return to that of a typical week in 2019. Compared to the previous week, there is a rise in activity as people visit retail locations more often. Let's hope this continues and there is a return back to normal.

recreational

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

While we went out and supported the regions shown as an increase in the tourism areas, our biggest increase was heading to the typical weekend getaway spots. When compared to last year, there’s a large increase of people visiting recreational areas during Queen’s Birthday weekend, and as expected, an increase compared to last year. We hope you supported the local businesses while you’re out enjoying the country.

residential

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

The number of people in residential areas during daytime continues to be lower compared to the week before. This indicates a slow trend of people returning to work, while some still remain working at home. We are unsure how much this indicates unemployment, and you would need to bring together other information to make that story.

tourism

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

With Queen’s Birthday weekend, there was an increase in domestic tourism, warming up on the Friday going through to Sunday. This was reflected in the tourism areas of New Zealand with the rising in population numbers. While not exactly back to normal patterns, especially for a public holiday, we are still seeing New Zealand get out and about and start to support our regions again. Even pre-COVID Domestic tourism made up a majority of New Zealand’s tourism market, and a new normal here might still be feasible with controlled borders.

transit

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

Transit activity continues to increase throughout the time we spend in Alert Level 2, as the comparison of last week and the week before shows. Current activity remains lower than a typical week in 2019, showing there’s still a possibility of a new normal. Are people getting more out of working differently? This will tell over time.

workplace

1 week ago v normal week 2019

1 week ago

normal week 2019

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

1 week ago

2 weeks ago

The insights are the same as last week for the workplace. An increase in activity increased compared to the previous week as even more Kiwis returned to work at their places of employment. There are people continuing to work from home, keeping activity lower than a typical week in 2019. This may end up being the new work pattern, as people discover different ways of working.

Our population – mobility during COVID‑19

In this section we explore mobility index for the population of New Zealand in six key categories[*] during COVID-19.

Our mobility measure[*] is created using the difference between maximum and minimum population estimates in categories of New Zealand over a day. This allows us to get an idea of mobility between each day of 2020 in this report compared to similar days from 2019.

retail

recreational

residential

tourism

transit

workplace

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

The change of population mobility across regions before and during COVID‑19.

In this section we explore the mobility index patterns for the regions of New Zealand[*] during COVID-19.

Our mobility measure[*] is created using the difference between maximum and minimum population estimates in areas of New Zealand over a day. This allows us to get an idea of mobility between each day of 2020 in this report compared to similar days from 2019.

northland

auckland

waikato

bay of plenty

gisborne

hawke's bay

taranaki

manawatu-wanganui

wellington

west coast

canterbury

otago

southland

tasman

nelson

marlborough

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to our current alert level.

The change of population mobility across regions last week compared to before COVID‑19

The purpose of this comparison is to see how we are tracking in changes of mobility[*] in our progress throughout COVID-19 and its various Alert Levels (1 through to 4). As Alert Levels are escalated/de-escalated, this is a good figure to understand the impacts on New Zealand’s population and their behaviour.

1 week ago v normal week 2019

While most of New Zealand showed less mobility than in an average week last year, the first long weekend since Alert Level 2 saw large increases in mobility in areas where people typically venture out for short holidays. Led by travellers to the West Coast, Kiwi’s headed for their holiday homes and coasts around the country as activity in urban areas fell, matching with increases in mobility in regions associated with domestic tourism.

The change of population mobility across regions across the last two weeks

The purpose of this comparison is to see how we are tracking in changes of mobility[*] in our progress throughout COVID-19 and its various Alert Levels (1 through to 4). As Alert Levels are escalated/de-escalated, this is a good figure to understand the impacts on New Zealand’s population and their behaviour.

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

Over the third week at Alert Level 2, mobility continued to increase across New Zealand, as more people returned to their pre-COVID routines. Driven by the long weekend action, West Coast showed the largest increase in activity.