(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: Tina Tiller)

SocietyOctober 30, 2021

How to have a spooky Halloween in lockdown

(Image: Tina Tiller)
(Image: Tina Tiller)

Lockdowns and a rainy weekend weather forecast mean Halloween will look a little different this year. Here’s how you can stay safe while still being spooky.

If you’re in Auckland or parts of Waikato, trick or treating is off the cards for this year’s Halloween. 

If you’re lucky enough to be in a level two region, you can of course still go trick or treating (with masks and distancing). Even so, with the weather forecast around the country looking ominously rainy all weekend, it might be more pleasant to stay at home with your bubble anyway. Whatever alert level you’re at, here are some tips to make your Halloween as spooky as possible, from the comfort and safety of home.


One of the downfalls of trick or treating is that a bunch of people are just passing off their unwanted lollies from the year before. Take the opportunity this year to bypass those rejected flavours, and make your own candy choices.

It could be argued that no one has as much of an affinity for sweets as the Swedish, so why not buy a selection from Safka, which is doing delivery or click and collect from their store in central Auckland. 

Or, if you’re wanting to get creative, decorate a cake with sinister-looking lollies like sour snakes or fake teeth to share with your bubble. If you’ve got a serious sweet tooth consider investing in a selection of classic dairy lollies and complete your own lolly reviews and rankings.


Even if this Halloween has its restrictions, there’s no reason why you can’t still dress up. Whether you go spooky, strange or sexy – have fun with it.

Ātea editor Leonie Hayden is hoping a Japanese trend of everyday cosplay Halloween costumes catches on in Aotearoa. The Japanese versions include characters like “guy who spilled coffee down his front” or “someone who has just arrived at the airport, and feels a bit cold”. Why not get into the spirit and dress up as a local everyday character. Here are some chaotic ideas for pre-delta-outbreak Aucklander costumes:

  • Person pushing the limits of carry-on luggage for a five-day Rarotonga holiday.
  • Someone realising immediately after stepping in that this shop isn’t their style – but browsing politely for five minutes anyway.
  • Uber driver responding to the question “so, has it been busy tonight?”
  • Someone returning to the office the day after a bad haircut.
  • Person in line at a buffet.
  • Unwitting Aucklander holding an umbrella on a rainy day in Wellington.
  • Commuter on a bus so jam-packed there’s nothing to hold onto for balance.


It’s looking like a rainy weekend for most of the country, so stay cosy indoors and watch a movie. Auckland’s Academy Cinema has been closed physically for months now, but its online streaming service is a great alternative, and means you can enjoy Academy’s catalogue no matter where you are in the country. They’ve got everything from creepy classics like the Scream trilogy and Rosemary’s Baby to modern favourites like Get Out and Parasite.

If you’re finding the world frightening enough as is, Academy also has a wonderfully vast selection of non-terrifying films.


Academy Cinema has an excellent array of frightening films



Pumpkins are a classic Halloween signifier, so why not carve out some time to make a delectable pumpkin dish? Either this pumpkin and blue cheese pasta or this pumpkin, silverbeet and barley soup would make a lovely Halloween dinner.


Whether you make it for yourself, your bubble or maybe to share with friends on Zoom, compiling a Halloween-themed playlist can be a great time-killer if you need something to keep you occupied. Bauhaus, TLC, The Cure, Aldous Harding, Dusty Springfield and Rihanna have all got creepy hits to get the ball rolling. And the theme from the 1978 film Halloween is actually kind of a bop.


If you bought a bunch of eggs in anticipation of egging people’s homes or cars – probably skip that this year. In fact, I’m going to declare egging officially banned at level three and level two. No one needs to be cleaning eggs off their windows this weekend, and chickens didn’t put in all that hard work for nothing. Quiche, scrambled eggs, custard and pisco sours are all much better things to do with eggs.

Halloween history

This video from YouTube fashion and film critic Mina Le is a fascinating deep-dive into the history of Halloween, and particularly costumes. Tracing its European roots, to adaptations that developed in the US, to the racist implications of certain types of costumes, to the relevance of Halloween for queer communities. 

Perhaps one of the most interesting points to take from her video is that Halloween has been a continually evolving celebration – it hasn’t always been about trick-or-treating children and lollies. A good reminder in strange times like this that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly isn’t unusual, for traditions to change.

Keep going!