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COVID-19
Population Report.

How we are behaving as a population from before and through COVID-19.

8 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 national

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 someone who is outside of their local tourism region. These regions areas are defined by Regional Tourism Organisations.

Domestic population

8%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

International population

1%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Numbers of domestic travellers continue to rise. Kiwis are becoming more mobile each consecutive day without any new reported cases. Over Queen’s Birthday weekend, domestic travellers topped numbers seen before the COVID-19 lockdowns, as people took the opportunity to finally get away. Perhaps the domestic tourist market can help make up for some of the downturns due to the lack of International Visitors. International travellers remain constant, reflecting the visitors still present in New Zealand that arrived prior to the border closures.

National mobility index

69%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Having more time to settle into a routine in Alert Level 2, activity across New Zealand is returning to pre-lockdown levels. Over the Queen’s Birthday weekend, we see that Kiwis who were not travelling away on a holiday decided to stay put at their homes, as the overall reduction in mobility shows. This is primarily driven by people not going to work on the long-weekend Monday.

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 one comparing last week to a normal week in 2019 to see what change happened 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. For the two week comparison, it 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 final week at Alert Level 2 we see activity around retail locations return to that of a typical week in 2019. Queen’s Birthday Monday exceeded a typical 2019 Monday’s activity, as some Kiwis decided to get their shopping fix on the long weekend. Compared to the previous week, apart from Monday, retail activity remained fairly consistent.

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 during Queen’s Birthday weekend, as seen with the increase in the tourism areas, our biggest increase was heading to the typical getaway spots (including neighbourhood parks, and walks). When compared to last year, there’s a large increase of people visiting recreational areas during Queen’s Birthday Monday, as expected. Weekly recreation activity also remains higher than the typical 2019 week, as people are still at home during the day in higher than typical numbers.

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 is similar compared to the week before. This indicates that, at least at Alet Level 2, we may have reached a balance between people returning to work, and those working from home. Unemployment may also be contributing to this. Queen’s Birthday Monday data shows that a lot of us stayed home, which is consistent with the drop in overall national mobility seen in the previous graphics.

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 rolling over from Saturday and Sunday two weeks ago to last Monday, we see increased domestic tourism across all three days. Tourism areas of New Zealand experienced higher population numbers, which hopefully provided some relief for the customer starved tourism operators. However, the overall tourist activity remains lower than a typical 2019 week, and this may reflect the lack of international tourists traveling through New Zealand. Let’s hope that continued incentives for domestic tourists can offset this shortfall. Perhaps it’s time to look at a different approach to the work week to allow domestic tourism to be sustained through the week?

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 is exceeding a typical 2019 week, apart from the Queen’s Birthday Monday. Even the weekend activity appears to be significantly higher compared to a typical 2019 weekend. Compared to the week before transit activity continues to increase, especially during the weekend. Are Kiwis simply driving around instead of enjoying their typical weekend activities?

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

Workplace activity was drastically reduced on Queen’s Birthday Monday, as Kiwis enjoyed an extra day at home. Overall there was a minimal increase across the other days, reflecting our observations of residential activity. It’s appropriate to ask, are we starting to see the new work pattern, as people embrace the flexibility of working differently?

NOTE: The vertical lines represent COVID-19 Alert Levels as they progressed, starting at the first line when NZ borders closed, through to Level 1 (coloured) current alert level.

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 mobility index for the population of New Zealand in six key areas[*] 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 to 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 West Coast and Marlborough bucked the trend. This is likely due to Queen’s Birthday Monday showing significant activity in these regions, whereas the other regions experienced increased activity during Queen’s Birthday Saturday and Sunday, which falls under “two weeks ago” in our data. Note that people leaving a region also drives high mobility through that region.

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 to New Zealand’s population and their behaviour.

1 week ago v 2 weeks ago

Compared to the week before, all regions showed decreased activity, including “holidaying” regions. This is likely due to the significant activity observed during the Saturday and Sunday of the first long weekend since relaxation of restrictions two weeks ago. Compared to that, even a normal weekend looks calmer.