On the Rollercoaster: What an Interesting Location

Posted by Patrick Lam on Friday, June 25, 2021

Table Of Contents


After a rainy weekend including a day at Pūkaha/Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre talking to Kahurangi the kokako (she says kokako!)…

Kokako and brown kiwi (with white forehead).

Back to Wellington

… we took commuter rail from Masterton back to Wellington, having arranged with The Lott for them to pick up the rental van from us at the station (thanks for the pick-up service at the holiday park and the drop-off service at the train station!). Much better than driving through the Rimutakas, although the train schedule isn’t the best (two trains a day on the weekend).

Wairapapa Line train.

Once we arrived at the Wellington train station, we walked to the cable car and caught the last one. But before taking the cable car up, I stopped at the grocery store, Countdown Lambton Quay, between 6:38 and 6:50. MP went directly to the cable car. Good for her, retrospectively!

Harmless stop at Countdown.

Monday was still rainy. I went climbing at Hangdog while MP hosted the NZ Health Minister and his staff at an event at her work. Tuesday cleared right up and I went to judo practice. Then on Wednesday, I had lunch with people at VUW. After lunch, I was checking the Spinoff’s live updates and noticed some locations of interest posted:

Nonempty intersection.

Yup, the Sydney case was at the Countdown at an intersecting time to me. Oops, not so great. The messaging on the website is pretty clear, though, so I went home and called Healthline as required.

The COVID-19 Healthline, calls 3 to 9

I got through on my 6th attempt; before that, it just said “You’re out of luck, too many people are trying to call”. Apparently it was the fourth-busiest day in the history of the COVID-19 Healthline, and they clearly weren’t ready for it.

Four unsuccessful calls to Healthline.

When I did finally get through at 10pm, the machine told me that there were 69 people ahead of me in the queue, and the expected waiting time was 116 minutes. I got updates every 6 minutes between the hold music and various public service announcements. Fortunately, people dropped off and the wait time ended up being about 80 minutes in the end, so that I was on the line for just under 90 minutes. The call centre person wasn’t nearly as good as the one previous time I called the Healthline with a runny nose a few months ago, but clearly they were under great stress. (Best practices not implemented this time: having me repeat the instructions back on the phone to ensure understanding; plus, some of the information given contradicted that on the website, like the self-isolation period, which I then pushed back on. MP had also called Healthline once before with a cold while we were on the South Island, and that had taken out a previous talk I was supposed to give too.)

MP had a concern about taking out the Health Minister and his staff, who visited her office (she shook the Health Minister’s hand, and they all were in the same space for a while). That would be bad. His vaccination was in the news as part of the vaccine PR effort, but presumably not his staff. The guidance from said government, though, was pretty clear: contacts-of-contacts didn’t have to do anything.

The other observation that MP made about the locations of interest was that the Australian traveller appeared to have quite a good weekend in Wellington, seeing all the things, including the Weta Workshop and the Surrealist Art exhibition. At least he’d received 1 dose of AstraZeneca; even though it was the delta variant, I think that helped us dodge the bullet.

Public notification

Since I check the news a lot, I’d figured that the COVID Tracer app should raise an alert by 1pm (after lunch). It turns out that it took two more hours for it to do so.

COVID-19 Tracer App and mobile alerts.

And everyone’s phone went off at 3:30 telling us that we were going into Alert Level 2. Well, better than when we were on the Tongariro Northern Circuit, which was really quite incongruous.

Self-isolation period

Being legally obliged to stay home, I did. My exercise was walking with MP when she went to the store to get things. I stayed well outside. Over the three days, I walked 6.6km, which is better than nothing. Ironically, there was a club tournament at the Wellington Judo Academy on Thursday, but I originally couldn’t go because of dinner after the SINZ talk (see below), and then no one could go to it because of the Level 2 restrictions.

Streets of Wellington 31 minutes before Level 2.

I also gave my SINZ seminar (slides) on Zoom, which I guess is a better experience for those not in Wellington, but worse in Wellington and worse for me: talking to a camera for 45 minutes is weird, and I did it in my flat’s vestibule, which isn’t quite heated, but has better lighting than elsewhere.

I called ahead to make an appointment for a COVID test at my GP, and got one for 9:15 on Friday. I figured that would be most likely to get me out of jail early-ish on Saturday, and it was as early as possible given the requirement to wait 5 days from the last contact.

COVID testing

I made my way to the GP at 9:15. My student reported that when he was going to the doctor in Ontario they really arranged it so that he had no waiting, i.e. the doctor appeared precisely at the appointment time. This wasn’t the case for me, and there was a slightly worryingly full waiting room with COVID-19 testees mixed with random patients, but in any case, I did wear a mask, and I was out of there in 8 minutes. I think the nurse doing my swab was more protected than the one doing MP’s swab a few months ago, in that she actually had a mask rather than a face shield. MP’s test was outside (drive-through), though.

I stayed at home the rest of the day except for walking to (outside) the Four Square (a bit bigger than a dépanneur but smaller than a supermarket).


The result came in just under 25 hours after the test, which is great, and faster than MP’s test in Wanaka. As I say about these things, a positive result would make national news. I did not make national news.

Not me!

The weather was again kind of crappy, but not too crappy, and we celebrated later on at Mr. Go’s. Now I can get a haircut on Monday.

Pork fried rice at Mr. Go's, one of our favourite eateries in Wellington.

PS [June 28]: Well, no community transmission detected yet so we’re in pretty good shape, but the government extended Level 2 until the end of Tuesday, so maybe I’ll wait for Wednesday for the haircut. On the other hand, I got to answer “yes” to COVID testing on the FluTracking survey.

Yes, I did get a COVID-19 swab test this past week.