Northland has smashed its Super Saturday target with 4974 vaccines delivered in a single day — well ahead of the region's goal of 3900 doses.
Nationwide the final figure was more than 129,995 doses, outstripping the government's initial target of 100,000. That was later bumped up to 150,000.
In Northland health workers were surprised, and gratified, by the number of people getting their first jab. They included more than 1000 Māori who received their first dose.
While Māori vaccination rates continue to trail behind the national average, they are now increasing faster than those of any other ethnic group.
A festival atmosphere, fancy dress, free kai, giveaways and games helped sweeten the deal for those lining up at 42 vaccination sites across the region, and may have persuaded some still on the fence.
Northland also saw one of the biggest protests against the vaccine rollout in the country with more than 1000 people gathering in Whangārei's Kensington Park for an event fronted by Destiny Church's ManUp movement.
Whangārei's Semenoff Stadium drive-through was packed with people rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated, along with volunteers offering food and drink.
Whangārei resident Nadia Elston was among those getting her first jab.
''The staff here are doing a fantastic job. I was putting it off until now, but I think it's about time people start taking this pandemic seriously, use some common sense and get vaccinated.''
Elston said the drive-through service was a great help to solo parents who could wait in the car with their kids.
The sausages and drinks provided by the Rapid Relief Team were an added bonus, she said.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the response to Super Saturday was ''fabulous''.
''We need Northlanders to get high vaccination numbers so that we can open up the borders and enjoy a beautiful Kiwi summer.''
Waipū's famous vax dinosaurs also put in an appearance at clinics in Whangārei and Bream Bay, roaring their support for Super Saturday while distributing lollies and good cheer.
Inside the inflatable dinosaur suits Patsy and Allan Beverwijk said they wanted to ''have fun with people, liven up the ambience and promote vaccination''.
''We need Northlanders to get vaccinated to come out of the lockdown and we're just doing our part.''
Whangārei protest draws more than 1000 people
More than 1000 people gathered at Kensington Park for a #FreedomNZ demonstration against the Covid-19 vaccine and mandatory vaccination in some sectors.
The protest was led by ManUp director Robbie Johnson, who said he was standing up for people's choice to get vaccinated.
Teacher Celia Paul said she was opposed to compulsory vaccination in her profession.
She had already received her first dose with her family making an informed decision to get vaccinated before the mandate came in.
''I'm not sure if the Government has thought of other strategies to promote vaccination but mandating it takes away people's personal choice and their belief system,'' she said.
''The reason I got vaccinated was I realised we can no longer hide from the virus. With level 4 not being an option for the Government, I used my common sense and took the vaccine. But the point is I was able to make a choice and others should be allowed to do the same.''
Whānau atmosphere rules in Mid North
Meanwhile, in the Mid North, a Vaccination Station set up at Moerewa Rugby Club grounds by Ngati Hine Health Trust and Ōtiria Rugby Club felt like a super-sized whānau festival.
People arriving by bus and car were greeted and directed to a waiting area, then ushered inside for their jab and back out to another marquee to wait out the 15-minute observation time.
In the meantime they were treated to hāngī and chocolate gateau, and community powerhouse Pamela-Anne Simon ran quizzes, gave away spot prizes and MC'd games of Te Putea or Te Pēke based on the 1970s TV show It's in the Bag.
Far North charity Bald Angels gave away hundreds of pairs of shoes and Moerewa's second-hand shop gave away its proceeds in the form of petrol vouchers as thanks to those getting the jab.
Ōtiria Rugby Club secretary Gene Tana came in early for his second jab.
''I did it for my whānau pretty much, I'm trying to keep them safe. I'm not too worried about myself — it's about my parents and grandparents,'' he said.
Reo Turner brought eight people from Rāwhiti, spurred by concerns the virus could be circulating in Northland following a visit by two Covid-positive women.
They went home with kai and new shoes and gumboots.
''It's awesome and the prizes are a bonus,'' she said.
Others brought their children, like Rick Brownlee of Moerewa who was supporting his daughter Maharlia, who turns 13 next week.
Brownlee said he had been fully vaccinated since August because of underlying health issues.
''A lot of the family have heath issues. I didn't want to risk it,'' he said.
Ngāti Hine Health Trust clinical lead Angela Hobson said her goal was to get as many whānau vaccinated as possible.
''It's awesome to see everyone coming out. We had a lot of young people come through in the morning with their siblings and mums and dads who've already been through. It's a real whanau-oriented atmosphere we've tried to create today.''
'By Māori, for Māori'
Ngāti Hine project manager Aorangi Stokes said the trust had been working hard, assisted by local organisers, to engage whānau to get a good turnout.
''I don't think we would have achieved this any other way. We know the by Māori, for Māori approach works for us because we have the inter-relationships that allow us to connect with people beyond just serving them.''
Stokes was especially pleased by the number of people getting their first jab.
''The first 60 people through the gate were first-time vaccinators. Those are people who've been sitting on the fence, watching the trends and the rollout of the campaign. We're really excited to see these whānau come off the fence, make an educated decision and come down here to be vaccinated.''
Stokes said the ''real cool incentives'' may have helped as well.
''We've got kai, we've got cakes, we've got spot prizes, we've got a $1000 prize draw.''
Also taking part in the Moerewa event was Rugby for Life chairman Ajit Balasingham, who was promoting the Take Two for the Team initiative in which anyone who gets a jab could nominate their sports club for a $10 donation.
Eight Māori health providers across Northland were taking part along with 16 clubs in codes such as rugby, hockey, netball and walking. The aim was to get 100 clubs signed up, he said.
''It's a win-win. The club gets money, people get vaccinated, and we all get out of these lockdowns and back to playing sport.''
About 15km west Kaikohe-based health provider Te Hau Ora o Ngāpuhi ramped up its drive-through vaccination centre at the Ōhaeawai Rugby Club grounds with extra helpers and giveaways.
Visitors to the Nḡapuhi Super Clinic were treated to snapper burgers, sausages, ice creams and free shoes.
Chief operating officer Tia Ashby said an engagement officer at front gate was answering questions from people who were still on the fence, such as whether it was safe to get vaccinated while pregnant.
Feedback had been overwhelmingly positive, she said.
''People really like the fun, friendly, whānau-oriented, non-clinical atmosphere. They can stay in their cars without having to stand in a queue and obviously the kids love Mr Whippy,'' she said.
Big turnout of first dosers
Over at Kerikeri Sport Complex, the Northland District Health Board set up a drive-through clinic with help from Māori wardens and St John volunteers.
Nurses donned fancy dress, a DJ played old 45s, and Rapid Response Team volunteers handed out free sausages.
Public health nurse Kerry Cane said two vaccination lanes were steady all day with 400 doses delivered by 1.30pm.
''It's been a really pleasant day with a steady stream of people, a lot of them came for their first dose which is just perfect,'' she said.
Police said they were called to the Kerikeri vaccination site when a protester, who had earlier been handing out leaflets, started filming people arriving to get their jabs. A small demonstration was held at Kerikeri Domain.