First person: If there is a New Zealand metropolis demonstrating how to raise Alert 4 – we will all take a sheet of Kaikōura’s book. The South Island has so far averted all confirmed Delta cases, but this coastal North Canterbury community looks like they are taking the threat seriously.
The scene this morning was one of the teases and temptations.
Sugar-coated peaks, boundless blue skies, and fur seals curling their whiskers in the sunlight.
Silky smooth sea with breathtakingly good diving visibility.
But no boat rocking on the water, no swimmer in a wetsuit on the beach or a local loitering in Nin’s Bin.
Everything empty except for a small handful of people in town standing in line for a superette.
There were masks on their faces, and everyone diligently kept a distance of two meters.
Aside from the views, the drive on State Highway 1 was pretty unfathomable for this die-hard Auckland commuter.
Driving north as a major worker meant sharing the vast tarseal stretches between Kaikōura and Blenheim with a total of … seven trucks, five subways, and an entire car.
I’m starting my journey home because a bus trip through the hinterland was cut off from short-time work and work obligations that I couldn’t do in my short bunker facility in Christchurch.
The only company in the passenger seat of my car is a pile of Dettol wipes, gloves, masks, and disinfectants, and I’m only staying one night at an important workers’ hotel.
The rest are all coffees from the roadside gas stove and One Square Meals. Glamorous.
At the entrance to Blenheim, a lonely red traffic light almost derailed my plans.
It had been placed between a construction site sign and a blind corner, unmarked on the transport company’s website.
Seconds passed, then minutes. It glowed stubbornly red. It occurred to me that today I could be the very first person to come across this traffic light.
Maybe it was left out by road workers by mistake?
It took more than 20 minutes for it to blink green, and I fiddled with my gear stick and handbrake in sweet relief.
It was so quiet on board the Kaiarahi Interislander ferry that I could hear another passenger snoring softly through the lounge and winced when my sandwich container crackled.
There were a lot of trucks, but I was one of only nine cars.
The employees took photos of important work permits, caught tickets contactless with a Dorito cardboard box and waved the passengers to separate seats.
No families drinking wine or TV commercials on the upper decks today.
There are plenty of ugly stories in police press releases of verbal abuse and level 4 rule breakers, but it’s clear hundreds are doing the right thing.
And are we not lucky enough to have our beautiful landscape wait patiently on the other side.