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The COVID-19 pandemic and outdoor recreation: Exploring COVID-19 induced changes in outdoor recreation engagement and behaviour in New Zealand

Degarege, Gebeyaw
Espiner, Stephen R.
Stewart, Emma
Espiner, Niamh T.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::440608 Recreation, leisure and tourism geography , ANZSRC::350805 Tourism resource appraisal , ANZSRC::350801 Impacts of tourism , ANZSRC::350806 Tourist behaviour and visitor experience , ANZSRC::410404 Environmental management , ANZSRC::410406 Natural resource management
The first cluster of COVID-19 cases was recorded in Wuhan, China, on December 21 2019. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a significant challenge in almost every aspect of life around the globe. In an attempt to contain the spread of the pandemic, several countries, including New Zealand, have taken consequent measures such as quarantines, social distancing, travel bans, and border closures, all of which have created a de facto restriction for extended outdoor activities. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was reported on February 28 2020, and was closely followed by government travel restrictions. On March 21, the Government of New Zealand announced a four-level alert system¹ and moved to Alert Level 3 on March 23 followed by a shift to Alert Level 4 at 11:59pm on March 25, a status that was maintained for a period of five weeks. For the majority of the New Zealand public, Alert Level 4 was experienced as a ‘lockdown’ during which typical work, travel and leisure activities were severely constrained. During the March-April Level 4 lockdown period, social and economic life was limited to what was possible from domestic residences, and New Zealanders were required to remain within strict household ‘bubbles’ in terms of their in-person social connections. These events have had a profound effect on individuals, families, communities, the environment and the economy, and many of these effects are still unfolding. The study reported here aimed to document how the March-April Level 4 lockdown² and COVID-19 affected New Zealanders' outdoor recreation participation and experience. The study explored the effects of COVID-19 on outdoor recreation participation in three main time-periods: (1) a 12 month period prior to the pandemic; (2) the five week period of Level 4 lockdown; and (3) after the Level 4 lockdown ended.
Source DOI
© LEaP, Lincoln University, New Zealand 2021.
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