Man tests negative after Northland to Otago trip

Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult: "We have to seize every opportunity to keep ourselves and our loved...
Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult: "We have to seize every opportunity to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy." Photo: ODT files
A man who travelled from Whangārei to Queenstown at the weekend has returned a negative test for Covid-19, but the scare has prompted Mayor Jim Boult to call for locals in the district to get vaccinated.

Northland entered Alert Level 3 on Friday night. Under these restrictions, travel to different regions for recreational purposes is strictly forbidden due to the Delta outbreak that has spread from Auckland to surrounding areas in the North Island.

Police are investigating after they were made aware of the breach.

The man flew from Whangārei to Wellington on a commercial flight on Saturday, October 9.

He stayed overnight at a hotel near Wellington Airport before flying on to Queenstown on Sunday morning, police said.

The man was travelling for employment but did not have the necessary documentation to allow him to leave Whangārei.

He was self-isolating in Queenstown, a police spokesperson said.

In a statement this evening, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said the man was tested earlier in the day and returned a negative test.

No further action would be taken and the Ministry would not comment on his vaccination status. "The matter is now with police."

Police were helping the Ministry trace the man’s movements in Wellington and Queenstown. It was also working with partner agencies to understand how the man was allowed to fly without appropriate documentation. 

The risk is real: get vaccinated, says Boult 

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult this afternoon called on all locals in the district to get fully vaccinated "for the good of your whānau, friends, colleagues and wider community".

“Our district is doing really well in responding to the need to get vaccinated, with more than 90% having had their first jab, and well over 50% fully immunised having had their second jab.

"But today’s news that a man has managed to breach level three lockdown from Whangārei, fly to spend the night in Wellington and onwards to Queenstown must be a stark reminder that we are far from immune to potential exposure in the district.”

Mr Boult said even if the man tested negative for Covid, people need to heed the warning.

"The risk is real. This clearly demonstrates that no matter how hard the Government and police are trying (and they are doing a fantastic job in trying to keep all of Aotearoa New Zealand safe) the time for hesitancy has passed.

"We have to seize every opportunity to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and healthy."

Mr Boult said the district relied significantly on visitors and the tourism and hospitality industry.

"Whilst it may seem strange to refer to that in these very quiet times, visitors will return as we open up to Auckland and the rest of the world in 2022.

"We all need to be confident we are a resilient community that can welcome them warmly, and that needs as many as possible, if not all, of us to get vaccinated. This is about protection of our livelihoods as well as our health and wellbeing."

“With the highest rate of people getting their first jab in the Otago and Southland regions, I know our community can get out there and make this the most vaccinated, and therefore the safest district in Aotearoa New Zealand.

"Our community embraces a challenge and I truly believe we can hit 95% of eligible folks fully jabbed by Christmas. What a gift that would be for everyone on Christmas morning!”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this afternoon announced a televised 'vaxathon' this Saturday, which she hoped would break daily records for Kiwis getting the Covid jab.

Mr Boult said 'Super Saturday' was the perfect opportunity and clinics would be open across the district.

"Come on folks, protect what we love and let’s get this done!”

- additional reporting ODT Online