Kiwis have joyfully burst free from their homes after almost five weeks in lockdown, heading back to work, the beach, cafes and, in many cases, fast-food outlets.
While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had expected 400,000 workers to return to their workplaces today, the traffic hotspots weren't on the motorways, they were at McDonald's drive-throughs.
McDonald's drive-through queues caused traffic jams everywhere from Auckland and Gisborne to Wellington and Christchurch, while Domino's Pizza said customers were most keen to get their hands on pepperoni, Hawaiian and meatlovers pizzas.
In Wellington, customers waited in McDonald's drive-throughs from the minute the alert level 4 lockdown ended at midnight yesterday, while workers heading back to their jobs pulled up in carparks in the wee small hours to snack on Big Macs.
Business became so feverish at lunchtime in Wellington and Christchurch that police showed up to divert traffic around at least two stores where the queue of cars snaked out onto the road.
In Gisborne, drive-through queues could be seen in drone footage stretching around an entire city block.
McDonald's didn't have sales numbers for the rush but did say business was through the roof.
"What I do know is that nationally, trading at most of the McDonald's restaurants has been about double that of a normal Tuesday," a company spokesperson said.
"Most restaurants have seen a big lunch rush."
Sushi was also on the menu for many, with St Pierre's Sushi seeing unprecendented demand online, with the surge in orders temporarily crashing its system.
The triumphant escape from home cooking for many Kiwis signalled the end of New Zealand's hardline Covid-19 lockdown that started on March 25.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said people should continue to work from home if they could.
However - while only businesses deemed essential could operate during alert level 4 - the move to alert level 3 enabled any business to reopen so long as it provided "contactless" service to customers and kept 1m physical distances between employees.
Industries such as construction, forestry and manufacturing were among those getting back to work and this led early morning traffic watchers to report seeing the nation's main centres buzz back to life for the first time in almost five weeks.
"I can see plenty of cars coming and going in all directions," Timesaver Traffic's Rebecca Apolosi said.
"There's the usual trucks, buses and courier vehicles that have been operating as normal under alert level 4. However, there's plenty of tradie vans and utes whizzing past as well this morning."
Police said the move to alert level 3 had led to an increase in traffic and people getting out and about but there were no "incidents of note" as of yesterday evening.
They expected Kiwis to take a short time to adjust to the new rules, with police keen to take an "education first approach".
In central Auckland, the returning high-visibility vests of construction workers starting on the City Rail Link and other building projects injected life into the city.
Caffeine hunters and their pooches were another familiar sight, waiting outside local cafes.
Auckland cafe Zoom Espressoin Green Bay took contactless customer service to new levels.
The business built a long wooden plank with a tray attached so the barista could push coffees out to customers without getting close to them, leading one Twitter user to share a video of the contraption.
"Love the Kiwi ingenuity!!," Stephanie Whyte wrote in the post.
Albert Yen, owner of Daily Daily Coffeemakers cafe in Karangahape Rd, also reported a hectic first day back as he welcomed the chance to have short catch-up conversations with regular customers from a safe distance.
He set up a table at the entrance to the store where customers could payWave and collect their coffees without entering or making contact with the staff.
He did report teething problems, however, getting used to an app called Regulr.
The app was made by the same company that created his point-of-sale software and was used by cafes and restaurants across the country to allow businesses to accept online orders from customers they know.
Elsewhere there were reports of online ordering apps crashing under the rush of orders.
Queues were also reported at hardware stores after Kiwis were able to restart their backyard do-it-yourself projects by collecting online orders from Mitre 10 and Bunnings.
Elsewhere surfers returned to the sea everywhere from Christchurch and Gisborne to Raglan after missing out on some epic waves during the lockdown, while mountain bikers and bush walkers also returned to trails.