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Road to recovery

May 30 2022 by Paul Taylor

Road to recovery

When Qantas flight QF121 touched down at ZQN from Sydney last Monday, it felt like the end of the pandemic for Queenstown. It was the first direct flight from Australia for 330 days. The first since the trans-Tasman bubble burst. A reconnection with our tourism water main, so the tap can finally be turned back on.

Now, I must admit, I wasn’t there, so I can’t tell you what the scene was like. Last April, I was at the airport to report on the first flight of the bubble. There were stilt walkers, flags, banners, Jim Boult with a beaming smile, the world and his wife waiting to greet relatives, friends and a few brave tourists (back then neither NZ or Australia had significant community cases). The first two blokes off the plane were wearing tuxedos, that was the vibe.

But this time around, I had actually caught Covid-19, on the same day as Jacinda no less. So, even though my iso-period was technically over, I thought it best not to go direct to the main concentration of travellers and tourists. Welcome to Queenstown, here’s a dose of Omicron for you.

I’m not going to write some ham-fisted analogy about how my own recovery from Omicron mirrors Queenstown’s recovery from the pandemic. How for the first few days I was a little feverish and laid out flat (like Queenstown in the first year), then had an annoying sore throat that wouldn’t let me sleep (domestic tourists?), until I finally discovered hot toddies (drinking has helped us all get through this). I wouldn’t do that.

However, it does feel like we are now over the worst of it and it’s about getting back on our feet, economically, socially and emotionally. 

There will be those who take issue with that, with daily deaths still in double figures. But, as the Ministry of Health only reports ‘with’, rather than ‘from’, it’s hard to measure how serious Omicron is. That’s no slight on the Ministry. It’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of death in every case, especially with the elderly.

Perhaps it would be better to say with the transmissibility of Omicron, we are past the point where we can effectively stop the spread through lockdowns and border closures. Or, more brutally, past the point where the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.

So, what next? Well, I’m not sure energy should be viewed a finite resource. Those who spend it freely appear to increase the amount they have to use. I know this is a National town, but look at the PM. She’s bounced back pretty quickly and (while I’ve been wallowing) has been touring the US, talking on chat shows and giving a commencement speech at Harvard University.

That’s what we need to do in Queenstown, pick ourselves up, throw on a tux, a smile, grab the stilts and banners, and chase away the exhaustion with energy.

Paul Taylor
Queenstown Media Group

- Paul Taylor