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Noise complaints see sharp dive, sounds of nature return amid Covid-19 lockdown

From the hustle and bustle of our high streets to the cacophony of cars on our state highways, New Zealand’s normally loud streets are now almost silent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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With everybody confined to their bubbles, it's also meant New Zealand is much quieter than usual. Source: 1 NEWS

"Because the amount of traffic's reduced somewhere between 80 and 90 per cent, the actual sound pressure levels are probably about 10 decibels lower, which means that background's about half as quiet as it used to be,” Massey University professor of acoustics Wyatt Page said.

In New Zealand’s major cities, the decibel difference is particularly noticeable, with noise complaints dropping sharply.

In Wellington, the number of noise complaints has dropped by 57.9 per cent compared to pre-lockdown figures.

The number is being mirrored across many other major cities, with Auckland seeing a reduction of 68.5 per cent, and Christchurch falling 37 per cent.

“So that's all that stuff that you're trying to filter out that ultimately, in the background, results in you feeling a little stressed and a little annoyed, and so we're in an environment where a lot of those have reduced markedly,” Mr Page said.

The noise has since been replaced with the sounds of bird calls.

"A lot more of the wax-eyes and just kereru as well, hearing their big thudding wing sound,” Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said.

However, the bird calls aren't just a pretty sound, with the sounds of the kākāpō providing evidence that Tiakina Ngā Manu, a Department of Conservation predator control programme, is seeing tangible results.

"The monitoring that was done before the alert level four show that there had been a massive bounce back. Flocks of 30 juvenile kaka in Fiordland's Egelton Valley, that's just huge,” Ms Sage said.