Big Mac-hungry Kiwis caused a traffic jam in north Auckland as cars queuing for McDonald's drive-thru could be seen snaking back on to the road.

The incredible lunchtime rush at the McDonald's in Akoranga Drive in Northcote was captured by Herald photographer Brett Phibbs and showed customers being forced to wait in their cars in the middle of the road.

The feverish rush even led the store to employ a hi-vis wearing traffic controller to direct customers, while a similar queue of cars at McDonald's in Belmont led to another traffic jam.

Do you think Aucklanders have been missing their fast food fix? This queue at McDonald's in Akoranga Drive in Northcote caused a traffic jam. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Do you think Aucklanders have been missing their fast food fix? This queue at McDonald's in Akoranga Drive in Northcote caused a traffic jam. Photo / Brett Phibbs

With dinner time expected to produce another rush at fast-food outlets across the city, it provided evidence of how much Kiwis have been craving liberation from their home cooking after nearly five weeks in Covid-19 lockdown.

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New Zealand left its hardline alert level 4 lockdown at 11.59pm on Monday, giving dozens of fast-food outlets reopening the green light to reopen for contact-less drive-through and delivery.

In Wellington, customers queued up at McDonald's Basin Reserve from midnight to ensure they were first in the line.

Cars were also logjammed back onto the road at McDonald's in Belmont in the North Shore. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Cars were also logjammed back onto the road at McDonald's in Belmont in the North Shore. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Of the 170 McDonald's restaurants nationwide, 137 had been cleared to operate in line with alert level 3 restrictions.

A reduced menu was being offered with over 50 different options, including the famous Big Mac, Chicken Nuggets, McMuffins and McCafe coffee.

However, shakes, sundaes, McFlurries and frozen coke was not being served in the first tranche of deliveries.

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Drone footage of car queue in Gisborne for McDonalds. Video / Jordan Perry

McDonald's managing director Dave Howse said more than 10,000 staff had been retrained with new safety measures.

"Your experience at Macca's may look a little different as we roll out contactless service," Howse said.

"Staff are wearing gloves, serve from behind counter shields, encourage contactless payment and carefully handle bags.

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"It's still the delicious Macca's we know and love, just delivered in the safest way possible."

McDelivery restarted at 10am with Deliver Easy available from 11am.

Early on Tuesday morning at Auckland's Grey Lynn McDonald's, cars queued out into Great North Rd to get their first taste of Maccas in almost five weeks.

Vincent White, Tai Perez, Ioane Toilolo, and Mark Leleifi were third in the queue and spent $100 on their favourite takeaway at McDonald's Mangere this morning. Photo / Michael Craig
Vincent White, Tai Perez, Ioane Toilolo, and Mark Leleifi were third in the queue and spent $100 on their favourite takeaway at McDonald's Mangere this morning. Photo / Michael Craig

And it was a similar story across town at Auckland's Greenlane, where a queue of dozens of cars snaked across the car park.

About 20 cars had queued at the McDonald's at Māngere town centre and Porirua town centre.

At Māngere, many of the customers spoken to by the Herald swung past the takeaway joint on their way to work - others had got up early just for the occasion.

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Hungry Aucklanders caused a traffic jam in their rush to grab a McDonald's lunch in Akoranga Drive in Northcote today. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Hungry Aucklanders caused a traffic jam in their rush to grab a McDonald's lunch in Akoranga Drive in Northcote today. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Tai Perez and three mates arrived at McDonald's in Māngere at 4am and were near the front of the queue. The line quickly grew behind them.

"We just wanted a munch, aye - so we broke the bubble and went to eat."

The group spent $100 between them. "We got quarter pounders, Big Macs, drinks ... I've still got two cheeseburgers left but I can't finish them."

They turned up extra early because "the boys were just hyping it up - we were looking at all the times they opened and this was the nearest one".

McDonald's menu would start increasing once ingredients became more readily available and restaurants started becoming fully stocked.

It was anticipated it would take three stages of restocking over the next three to four months before the full menu was offered.

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Restaurants located inside malls or without a drive-thru would remain closed until further alert level changes allowed them to reopen.

"The main priority was to get as many of our restaurants and staff back to serving their customers as quickly as possible," Howse said.

"To achieve this, McDonald's has opened with a reduced menu to allow more restaurants to open more quickly."