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COVID-19
Population Report.

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

6 July 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

+9%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

International population

-2%

CHANGE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

We saw an increase in domestic visitors last weekend as school holidays moved into full swing. As we move into the middle of school holidays we will see the full extent of the holidays as whanau move around the country. The international population count continues to slowly trend downwards, as people seek repatriation flights to their home countries when they can.

National mobility index

+30%

INCREASE IN THE
LAST 2 WEEKS

Mobility has increased quite substantially and reflects the uptick in domestic tourism we observed towards the end of the week. As the mobility is hovering around zero (which is baseline normal activity), small changes tend to result in larger swings in the percentage change. However, all signs seem to suggest we are at a normal pre-COVID-19 level of movement.

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 the last two weeks we see a consistent pattern in retail populations, however the last two weeks seem to be slightly higher than this period last year. We can watch this over the coming weeks to see how the current school holidays impact on the population's retail habits.

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. Compared with last year, there appears to be a greater sustained level of activity throughout the week. Are people opting to work from holiday homes with the rise in remote working technology adoption and avoiding the workplaces of New Zealand? Or are they choosing to frequent recreational areas during the work day, feeding a healthy habit they picked up during lockdown? The workplace activity would suggest the latter.

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

Compared to a normal week in 2019, we see slightly more people in residential areas at all hours. This could be due to flexible working arrangements becoming more commonplace, or people that are still displaced from work due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

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 to the week prior. However, the overall tourist activity remains lower than a typical 2019 week, and this likely reflects the lack of international tourists traveling through New Zealand. The relatively high activity during the week indicates that at least some of the activity we see are people regularly in tourist areas moving about. Perhaps employees in these areas that work a typical work 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 very similar over the last two weeks, 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, changing patterns around the use of public transport - or - is it more people that happen to live in suburbs that form transit areas staying home?

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 very 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

We see greater activity across all regions in New Zealand compared to a typical week in 2019. Regions that historically attracted domestic tourism lead the way. This seems to align with the increase in domestic tourism in the weekend leading into school holidays. It seems that we are embracing the freedom offered with no community transmission in New Zealand, to get back to travelling around New Zealand. Let’s hope we can springboard off this to sustain our tourism sector, as international travel looks unlikely in the short term.

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 is little change in the mobility across New Zealand compared to the week prior, although most regions experienced a slight increase in activity. It will be interesting to see whether, with the school holidays upon us, there will be a significant increase in domestic travel over the coming weeks.