Police were called to a Mt Roskill park after more than 30 people were seen playing touch rugby while crowds - some unmasked - were spotted around the city, including in the city's most high-profile shopping street and at popular beaches on Auckland's first Saturday under level 3.
The lax attitude to lockdown social distancing in many public hot-spots across Auckland has led to calls from one public health expert to consider outdoor mask mandates.
Others told the Herald on Sunday of a mostly maskless morning queue outside a Takapuna cafe, staff at a footwear store on a "heaving" Ponsonby Rd letting people try on shoes outside, people petting the dogs of strangers at a busy beach and a bubble-breaking house party.
"It's a party, I noticed there's balloons and lights," a Pakuranga Heights resident said late yesterday afternoon, after spotting five people from a different household go into a neighbour's house.
"Yes, I've reported it to police. There was obviously a gathering and no masks and no social distancing was practised. This to be honest frustrates me."
The potential breaches - under level 3 contactless retail is allowed but people are still supposed to stick to their household bubbles - might mean outdoor mask mandates are needed if the city fails to get on top of the current Covid-19 outbreak, University of Otago professor of public health Nick Wilson said.
It was harder to spread Covid-19 outdoors, but not impossible - he was aware of a case in Australia where the virus was spread in a beach setting.
"If the wind is down and people are close, and definitely if people are running around together, that's not good."
A Mt Roskill resident called 111 three times yesterday morning to report a touch rugby game involving 32 people at Margaret Griffin Reserve, with police confirming they took an "education first approach" advising the group of the level 3 restrictions.
No one was arrested.
Daily national alert level compliance figures are released the following day, so any numbers around level 3 breaches won't be available until today, a police spokeswoman said.
Police were doing "visibility patrols" in Auckland this weekend to ensure people stuck to the rules, she said.
The Mt Roskill resident described being so angry she was shaking after reporting the touch rugby incident.
"I know people who are losing their businesses [because of lockdowns]. How are people misunderstanding [level 3 rules], or is it that people know but don't care?"
No one wants a return to level 4, but Auckland may instead have to join Victoria and New South Wales, who have at times required mask wearing outdoors, if case numbers rise, Wilson, the public health expert, said.
More than 1000 people - almost all in Auckland - have been infected with the virus since the outbreak began, and a woman in her 90s has died. Sixteen new community cases were announced yesterday, with three not yet linked to previous confirmed cases.
Police might also need to ratchet up their enforcement, rather than favouring education, Wilson said.
There was still a reasonable chance Auckland would control the current Delta variant outbreak, which was first detected almost six weeks ago and sparked a snap level 4 lockdown - from which Auckland only emerged on Wednesday.
"But countering that is this lockdown fatigue, and the Government's own deficiencies," he said, citing a lack of action on ventilation, rapid antigen tests and masks in schools, factories and offices.
He understood the lure of the outdoors on a sunny day after a long lockdown, but rule-breaking - especially playing contact sport, which was particularly dangerous for transmission because people were breathing heavily - wasn't a good idea.
"If we're really going to succeed with eliminating the spread in Auckland, people just have to follow the rules."
Many of those outdoors in Auckland yesterday were at the city's beaches, including Mission Bay, where Bald Eagle Diner manager Rob Quinto said crowds were "much busier" than previous level 3 weekends.
"I think the other level 3s people were just waiting for level 2 because it's just a couple of days anyway. And after the longest level 4 people are just very excited to be back outside, I am, but I want to be safe too.
"There's lots of people on the beach - having picnics, swimming, paddling ... I could see people patting other people's dogs. It's more concerning than other days, because there's less people wearing masks."
It was important to remember most people will be following the rules of level 3, Mind Matters psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald said.
He encouraged people to let the police take care of enforcement and focus on "keeping your own side of the street clean".
"Focus on doing the right thing yourself, rather than getting too curtain twitchy and pointing the finger, because that also just makes us miserable if we get caught up in that."
Although the change from level 4 to level 3 seemed subtle, it meant going from being completely in our bubbles to "all of a sudden seeing the world interacting".
"That can be a bit of a shock. So some of those situations people describe people might've even been keeping their distance and mask wearing but it feels scary to us because we're used to the extreme lockdown of level 4."
Police would take care of the really obvious rule-breakers, but we could do our bit too by encouraging friends and family to "do the right thing", MacDonald said.
"It's about saying, 'come on mate, we're all trying here and you know you're not really supposed to do that', and that little bit of shame of being called out is sometimes enough to stop a lot of people."