Weekend Herald

Staying in more: This is life after Covid

Survey reveals how much Kiwis have changed in the pandemic

- Kirsty Wynn

New Zealand’s response to the virus and our virtual eliminatio­n of community transmissi­on has meant life here is very different from overseas.

But NZME’s 2021 Lifestyle Survey — How We’re Doing, shows Covid-19 and the resulting lockdowns have had a profound effect.

Overall the 1000 people who shared their experience­s said they have come out of Covid mostly strong and happy. They said the first lockdown grew community and family bonds and there was “a countrywid­e pact to support New Zealand”.

The survey was carried out by Colmar Brunton on behalf of NZME, publisher of the Weekend Herald. Between February 19 and March 5, NZME spoke with 1000 New Zealanders to find out how they feel, shop, work, travel, and live.

Our home our castle

The survey found the Stay Home Save Lives message of lockdown has stuck with New Zealanders.

Despite having more freedom post-lockdown compared to the rest of the world, Kiwis are still spending more time at home.

There was time for hobbies, exercise and home-cooked meals. And with more time on our hands, nearly half of us watched more TV online compared to last year.

Younger Kiwis say they are still spending time watching TV/videos online, browsing the internet and scrolling social media. For those over 50, gardening and reading are the goto relaxation­s.

The first lockdown in March last year was a novelty. New Zealanders approached it with enthusiasm, baked bread and exercise. This slipped with successive lockdowns though with many admitting to streaming and catching up on sleep.

Those who fared best were the seven out of 10 Kiwis who are active in their downtime — they said they are “doing well”. But many who used their downtime on their devices said they were feeling more anxious.

Survey results also revealed many sought the comfort of a new pet.

Demand for puppies increased after lockdown, which has driven a huge price hike, with some pups now selling for over $6000.

Working from home

Home has also become our workplace. The survey found more than 40 per cent of New Zealanders are still working from home in some capacity.

Those surveyed said they were finding work more demanding, especially those in the 50-64 age group, and many felt frustrated, anxious and worried. They could see the benefits to working from home though, including time and money saved on the commute.

We work an average of 1.31 days per week from home. But more than a third of us are in a role where it is not possible to work from home due to the nature of the job.

Encouragin­gly, only 2 per cent of Kiwis have lost their job.

How we shop

Lockdown has shifted our shopping

habits. The survey found more New Zealanders plan ahead and do the grocery shop at the supermarke­t or online once a week or fortnight.

There are more visits to the local butcher and fruit and vege shop and pre-prepared meal kits such as My Food Bag, Hello Fresh and Woop have soared in popularity. Around a fifth of those under 50 are using them more often than a year ago.

Media use

We are also spending more time in front of screens, with headphones or our nose in a publicatio­n.

Compared to a year ago Kiwis are spending more time with streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+, as well as online news websites and social media.

Younger audiences in the 18-34 age group said they were reading printed newspapers in higher numbers. This was explained by younger people

returning to family homes in lockdown and developing new habits.

As well as reading news online and in print, 18-34s were also increasing their use of podcasts, social media, online music and radio.

Working out

Lockdown gave New Zealanders a newfound love for exercise. In levels 3 and 4 it was one of the few reasons to leave the house so we took that and ran with it.

Bike purchases soared with some reports of a 12-month waiting list. For households with dogs, there were plenty of walks to be had in a day.

The habit has stuck and over a third of those surveyed said they were exercising outdoors more than a year ago. Only a small number admitted to having stopped exercise completely.

Online exercise routines using paid apps or videos are popular with young Kiwis, especially in Auckland

and Wellington. Higher-income earners were more likely to run, cycle or swim in their spare time.


One in five people surveyed revealed they were not feeling okay.

Some people were anxious and avoiding life. They were feeling “less tolerant of other people”, couldn’t see their way through the crisis, and didn’t know how the economy would recover.

There are pockets of our society struggling, particular­ly the lowerearni­ng 35-49 age group, who are trying to manage work and family life.

But we’re an optimistic nation with 42 per cent of us feeling that overall, things will improve in the next 12 months.

Over half of the New Zealanders surveyed said they feel happier and were doing well, adding they were less reliant on social media and doing more free activities at home.

Ready to travel

Kiwis haven’t lost their zest for adventure and 82 per cent are interested in travelling overseas.

But those surveyed said they were hesitant to fly with 73 per cent concerned about companies not refunding deposits, and potential loss of income getting stuck overseas.

The vaccine rollout and Cook Island travel bubble were a turning point for travel. A quarter of Kiwis said they were planning on travelling overseas in the next 12 months, with a further quarter unsure.

Young Aucklander­s were revealed as the most likely to book first, with the 50-64s a little less likely to be dusting off their passports.

Australia and the Pacific Islands were the top destinatio­ns for Kiwis, with over half of those surveyed saying they were the most preferred.

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