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I’m writing this on our first day of freedom and it feels so GOOD! Lockdown hasn’t been the nightmare I’d expected and there are plenty of people who’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet of empty calendars and skies. There are a lot of very happy children and pets who have had far more cuddles and walks and games and fun with their family than normal. Many business people are hoping that the amount of travel they have to do can now be cut hugely since they’ve all got so adept at Zoom. If you’ve ever wanted to study, check out the universities - I know that Canterbury is doing all their lectures online now - students can  still go to lectures if they want . I attended my first lecture this morning and it’s incredible - actually better than being there - with one push of the button, my very fab Spanish lecturer could put us in groups of three to discuss something, then two minutes later, push it again and we are all back together to give our replies. All the worksheets are sent out, filled in, marked and returned online - so efficient - no travelling, parking, posting, couriering required! Just had to be careful my elderly husband didn’t go wandering past in his undies in case all those 20 year olds got nauseous at the sight. Zoom has a few downsides, and that would be a big one, especially at 9 am.

The downsides for today’s Wakatipu  are many and various and VERY stressful but there are lots of upsides - not least random acts of kindness -here’s a huge thank you to Hayden McCormick of Arthur’s Point. This superstar saw our mad and wonderful English friends who have a house near Glenorchy stuck at the Caltex station in QT. They’d accidentally filled up the car with the wrong breed of fuel on their way back to the top of the lake. The car needed to have the bad fuel drained out but it couldn’t happen that day, and lovely Hayden overheard the conversation and said he had a spare car he would lend them, and would take them back to his house to get it. He didn’t even want any money for it. If anyone knows Hayden, tell him to contact me, and I want to give him something delicious as thanks for being such a big hearted Queenstowner.

Did everyone read the ex World Bank economist Ralph Hanan’s excellent essay “Queenstown’s Ponzi Growth Scheme”? I haven’t discussed it with any economists (I’m not sure I even know any) but it has struck a very loud chord with a lot of locals. Look it up online and see what you think - we’ve got a perfect opportunity to change the way we do tourism here and he outlines many of the reasons why change will improve our community.

I’ve loved all the feedback from you this week - seems my mother is right and lots of people like a good forum for a whinge! Geoff Bradley rightly wondered whoever lit that bonfire at the Arrowtown end of Lake Hayes and filled our nice empty skies with smoke for a few days - what on earth were they burning? And if they did have a fire permit, how did they get it? Noone in council seemed to be answering any phones, and if they did, they weren’t able to answer any questions. Geoff also grizzled about the LWB being less satisfactory for toilet paper than another local newspaper. Geoff, there is masses of loopaper for sale in NZ - have you been living under a rock?

Not rockman but The Rocket Man - look him up on FB - such delicious vegetables grown locally and fabulous value. And do go and support all your favourite businesses - most of them have worked so hard over lockdown to work out ways to please us more - they are definitely going to be needing our support. And the ones that don’t make the effort are simply not going to survive. Some businesses have spent doing lockdown doing nothing at all, and one I was at  at 8 am today had a big crowd of joyful customers excited to be back there, only to discover their confirmed bookings were useless - they had forgotten to change their website to show that only half as many people could come. I won’t mention the business’ name but I hope they realise there’s no place for incompetence in this climate.