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COVID-19
Population Report.

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

29 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

6%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

International population

-2%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Numbers of domestic travellers continue to be steady rise the longer we spend in COVID-19 Alert Level 1. It seems with the news of new COVID-19 cases didn’t change any of our want to travel around our country and support our regional tourism businesses. As before, the international population count continues to decrease slowly, as people trickle out through our closed border, returning to their home countries when they can.

National mobility index

STEADY

INCREASE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

We are seeing a slow increase in mobility around New Zealand. This indicates a return towards normal behaviours overall. However when looking at the different categories of population further down this report, there are still new behaviours contributing back to the overall national picture of “normal” mobility.

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

Across the last two weeks there remains a similar pattern. When looking at last week back to a typical week in 2019, there’s an increase of people throughout the week in retail areas. Seasonality needs to be considered here, where our comparison to last year may have crossed over with a school holidays period. We should expect to see less of this effect when the school term ends in two weeks time, and things balance out.

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

In recreational activity across the last two weeks and compared to last year, we are seeing a steady pattern. What left remains unanswered is the sustained number of people throughout the week in recreational areas. Are people opting to work from holiday homes with the rise in remote working technology adoption and avoiding the workplaces of New Zealand?

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 remained similar compared to the week before. Compared with a typical week in 2019 however, we still see that more people are still staying at home throughout the day.

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

Activity across tourist areas are similar with overall an increase of population through the week. Are we taking up those cheap campervan/accommodation deals and heading out to see our country, or is it we are starting to board those regional planes again to our favourite destinations? 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.

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

Compared to the week before, transit activity is very similar - with the exception of evening transit. There has been an overall increase to travel later in the day. However, when comparing activity to a typical 2019 week - there continues to be a dramatic increase. This could be a symptom of more congestion, increased use of public transport and other reasons in the transport area.

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 population numbers have remained steady when comparing the last two weeks. Compared to a typical week in 2019, this also remains slightly under pre-COVID-19 numbers.

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

Taking in consideration what areas of New Zealand have seen an increase when compared to 2019 mobility, there is a connection to areas which have historically attracted domestic tourism. We wonder what population mobility will look like as the ski season kicks off in the South Island this week, and North Island the week after along with school holidays.

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

There has been a standout increase in mobility around the central area of the North Island. One of the areas - Hawkes’ Bay - can be attributed to their popular domestic tourism campaign. Another component is with an increase of travel around New Zealand, the center parts of the North Island highlight activity due to being central to travelling between main centres.