October: Suppression in Auckland, elimination elsewhere in NZ

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, November 1, 2021

Table Of Contents

Leaving NZ

Now that I’ve been vaccinated, it’ll be safe for me to travel, and I’ll be flying to Montreal on November 29 via Los Angeles, quite near peak immunity. I hope to get back to New Zealand next year between teaching, and will be watching the news closely for more information about the border. I’m hoping that it’ll be open in February. I changed visa status to Partner of a Worker, so I am allowed to be in NZ as long as my spouse is in NZ and has her job.

Per the numbers I quote below, and the low number of cases detected at the border, managed isolation is not protecting Auckland. It’s hard to get rid of it just yet, though, because it is still protecting the rest of NZ.

Meanwhile, I don’t yet have plans for December. I should work on that soon.

January 2020: the Air Canada plane we arrived on; Taranaki

Delta was too hard

To my chagrin, Auckland currently has more daily new cases, per capita, than Ontario. The daily average for New Zealand is a bit under 124/day for the past three days, mostly in Auckland (population 1.6MM), so 7.75/100k. Ontario’s three-day average is 372/day over a population of 14.57MM, so 2.53/100k. Quebec is somewhere in between: more COVID than Ontario (over twice as much) but less than Auckland, at 5.79/100k. For now, test-trace-isolate is still working in Auckland with a relatively stable R of 1.2.

On the other hand, New Zealand is still aiming for elimination outside Auckland (ask the people in Northland who just got a surprise lockdown due to an unlinked case). But the PM warns us that eventually the virus will get out of Auckland. As I wrote a few weeks ago, still pretty good for us here in Wellington.

I got my second dose yesterday with an 8-week gap; Ontario and BC numbers have shown increased vaccine efficacy with longer gaps, levelling off at about 8 weeks. So I’ve been kind of playing chicken with the virus. Hope it stays out of Wellington for another 2 weeks while I develop full immunity.

Fully vaccinated (fully immunized in 2 weeks)! Well, me, not the random cat.

The NZ Government has announced a relatively sensible post-vaccination plan. Is it enough? We’ll see. There is a traffic light system reflecting hospital capacity (green = no restrictions, red = max restrictions) with most of the constraints being on unvaccinated people at more restrictive levels. This system takes effect in Auckland once it reaches 90% of eligible double-dosed; on the South Island when it reaches the 90% milestone; and for the rest of New Zealand once the whole country reaches 90%. Eligible means 12+, as counted by a “Health Service User” estimate.

As I mentioned last month, there are still remaining questions about racial equity. It’s been getting better, but Māori vaccination rates are still lagging (for predictable and terrible historical reasons) and they now account for 50% of new infections, whereas Pasifika infection rates have decreased and vaccination rates have increased.

It’s ostensibly voluntary in NZ for venues like gyms and restaurants to restrict to vaccinated customers only, but not really, since the constraints will make it impossible to operate profitably. Also, vaccinated venues must require vaccination for staff. Contrast that to Ontario, where customer vaccination is mandatory sector-wide, but staff vaccination isn’t. Huh?

The New Zealand plan thus sensibly acknowledges that non-pharmaceutical interventions will be needed even with a high vaccination rate and includes many incentives for vaccination. We haven’t had any real news about the border except that managed isolation is going to be 1 week rather than 2. It would make sense that the borders can open soon after getting to the traffic light system, but it’s by no means certain. I hope that NZ doesn’t follow Singapore or Norway’s footsteps, but it’s unclear to me how that will work out. I think I’m now able to travel to Australia from New Zealand, but that would be one way.

October posts

Was too busy writing papers for my day job to write other blog posts. I also ran out of space on my webhost and converted pictures from the June 2020 summary into WebP and the new internal storage format, adding links to my gallery.

What’s going on in the world

I don’t really have any more insights about the world and COVID. There’s a workshop in the Netherlands in December which is interesting, but there’s COVID there (well, where isn’t there COVID?) Need to check up on that. Delta is hard.

COP26 will be continuing for the next week and a bit. The effects will be far-reaching. I wish I could say I was cautiously optimistic. If we can’t even solve COVID, how can we solve global warming? Nevertheless, we need to do everything we can. I don’t mean that at the individual level, but rather at the policy level.


I keep on saying I’m almost done with 2020, but there are still a couple more albums. I have 4G of pictures from one of our first trips to Cape Palliser (about 500 pictures), which I’m working on right now. That’s the last big one. Here’s what I processed in October.

The Southern Walkway is a Welly Walk but I’m going to keep it in the one-offs and use the lockdown Southern Walkway as the canonical version for the Welly Walks album.

Kakariki at Zealandia, MP w/Gandalf, Whakapapa Crag, Mangatoetoenui Rock, sheep on Matiu/Somes Island

More Welly Walks:

Wilderness walkable from Wellington (Northern Walkway); Artists Brackets at Otari-Wilton's Bush; kereru.

To do:

  • [January] Hump Ridge Track
  • [February] Jumbo Circuit
  • [February] Tongariro Northern Circuit
  • [April] Avalanche Peak, Mount Somers Track
  • [June] Rotorua (airport walk)
  • [July] Hobbiton
  • [July] Aotea
  • [August] Cook Islands
  • [September] Sea to Sky II
  • [September] Paparoa Track & the Glaciers
  • [September/October] Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • [October] Mt. Cook and Mt. Somers

One-day 2020 albums that I haven’t listed here: Cape Palliser, Wellington (Botanic Garden & Zealandia). And I found some more leftovers from the other Cape Palliser album that I didn’t process, as well as Titahi Bay. Oops. Still, probably less than 1000 photos now.


We submitted papers to ICST and SANER, so quite busy. Talked about ICST in the September update even though the submission was October 5. SANER had a 3-day deadline extension, which I consider unprofessional, but I’m not really in that community, so what can I say. Ate my weekend. At least we had something which I’m proud of in the end, and I don’t think we would have made it for the original deadline. That’s the thing: I always work to the deadline, whatever it is.

Ali and David are both officially done now. Worked with Ali in October on final revisions of the thesis. Thinking of submitting Ali’s work (along with the previous work by Jun) to the BENEVOL workshop in December. The venue seems on point and a useful way to get more feedback. I usually like travelling. But travel has now become somewhat logistically complicated.

I just tried to run the git activity for ECE 198 today but got zero engagement. Hmm. Next up is marking a subset of design proposals for norming purposes, then providing specifications for the final demos. I did contribute to a rubric for ECE 198 design proposals in October.

Again 20 work days and 11 no-work days, pretty similar to September. Lumpy distribution due to Christchurch and Abel Tasman trips, but then working non-stop on paper submissions. This tracks exactly the work day count in October, though. Talked to students on 15 days. This should taper off in November since I’ve graduated some students and am not actively submitting a paper (mostly).

Haven’t managed to really get to the stated October goals yet except for submitting SANER. Still have: wrap up NSERC Alliance, then maybe the SE retrospective and some ECE 459 work. Also possibly BENEVOL. And working on a D2L grant proposal.


The PLDI storm is coming (papers to review) but not here yet. Uploaded my papers to the Toronto Paper Matching System. It’s pretty good at extracting one’s papers from a webpage.

Not much other collegiality. I wrote a letter and told someone else that I wouldn’t be able to write them a helpful letter. Advised a PhD student (not mine) about work/life balance in academia.


Finished the Abel Tasman Great Walk, and went climbing at Mount Somers, plus toured around Mount Cook Village (kind of like Lake Louise, but less visited, at least when we were there.)

  • 🚶 Walking distance: 159.5km (most of a Great Walk)
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 85.3km
  • 🚗 Driving distance: 744km (Mount Cook and Mount Somers)
  • 🚗 Taxi distance: 25.4km (WLG, CHC)
  • 🚌 Bus distance: 74.6km
  • 🛩 Plane distance: 802km (KTF-WLG, WLG-CHC, CHC-WLG)
  • 🚡 Cable car distance: 1.4km (2x)
Mount Cook from Tekapo; black stilt; banded dotterel; mountains over Tekapo; moulting penguin and normal penguin at International Antarctic Centre.


  • Abel Tasman Coast Track: although I listed it last month, most of the walk was this month. As I said before: harder than it looks! Lots of beach views but thankfully not so much beach walking.
  • Hooker Valley Track: went for the sunrise, which may not have been optimal; the first 5 people we passed on the way back all had better camera gear than me, and my gear is not a POS!
  • Red Tarns Track: sure is steep, good views though.
  • Pinnacles Hut: also steep, pretty gruelling 3hr approach for cragging; we stayed overnight but couldn’t climb the next day due to rain.
  • Red Rocks from Brooklyn via Radome: did this again, got a nice picture of a welcome swallow at the end!
Glacier iceberg on Hooker Lake; welcome swallow at Red Rocks; Mutton Beach on the Abel Tasman; "Red" tarns; view of Pinnacles Hut on Mount Somers Track.

Other sports

Back to a more regular judo practice schedule: made it to the club 7 times in October. Hard to get motivated about weekend technical practice, but at least I’ve gone to almost all weekday regular practices. Two visits to climbing gyms: once at the usual Hangdog in Wellington (Lower Hutt), and once at Uprising in Christchurch. Plus most of a pitch outdoors at Mount Somers (that 3-hour approach though!)

No other sports. Just paper writing.

Travel planning

Not much. Just planning my trip back to Canada. As to what I’ll be doing in Canada, who knows? My place isn’t available until January, so I think I’ll be trying to find low-COVID places or staying in Montreal (where a friend offered a room). I have a lot of flexibility, but then again, there is this pesky virus, which I’d like to minimize exposure to. Nevertheless, I’d like to at least visit Quebec City, and maybe the Maritimes.


Let’s see:

  • Native Birds of New Zealand by David Hallett (actually wasn’t the book I was meaning to buy, but also good)
  • some more planters for my succulents; have to go to Palmers Miramar to get a good selection.
  • camera lens cleaning kit
  • free book: The Empire City: Songs of Wellington donated by Andrew Laking to the Wellington City Libraries to give away.
  • Panasonic SC-NA07 speaker

And I gave away an old sleeping bag which was heavy and not that warm.

Every time I buy something I’m like “hmm, how am I going to bring this back to Canada?” Plus, I discovered that I had 2 checked bags not 3 with Air New Zealand (even with status; normally it would be 1). I can always pay $120 for another bag, but do I need to? Hard to say.

Miscellaneous life updates

Hmm, nothing else?



  • Commi: I had bánh xèo, yellow Vietnamese crepes. The texture wasn’t quite right but it was tasty.

Abel Tasman:

  • Harakeke Restaurant at Awaroa Lodge & Cafe: We were there on opening day for the season. The staff were quite enthusiastic about being open and the food was fantastic, especially for a place that’s really in the middle of nowhere. (One might additionally hope that they could be on the water, but they’re not). MP had a salad, which was nice on a multiday hike.

Greater Wellington:

  • Salty Pidgin: had good whitebait and greenlip mussels here. I’d had a whitebait sandwich elsewhere before and that wasn’t so flavourful, but this was. Also ox tongue.
  • Dumpling World in Lower Hutt: exceeded expectations for Wellington, but generally what I expect for a Chinese restaurant. Dumplings (pork & Chinese chive with chili oil) were great, of course. Also many other dishes, including Hofun noodles and pork ribs.
  • Orange Chinese at Harbourside Market is open again, though in a different corner (the vendors are now more spread out). It was super windy last Sunday and there was no lineup!


Like animals? Tailor Made Tekapo Accommodation has many domestic animals (chickens, bunnies, guinea pigs). Unwin Lodge is also quite convenient at Mount Cook and attractively priced for NZAC members.

Books and other media

I tried to read

  • Shorebirds of New Zealand by Keith Woodley but ran out of time. Interesting source of information about these birds though.

And I glanced through

  • How to photograph absolutely everything by Tom Ang. The author clearly knows how to photograph everything, but some of the comments end up being pretty superficial, which is hard to avoid when one’s subject is everything.

I borrowed a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates from the library.


OK, papers done, now what?