It was a chilly and silent day in March when New Zealanders woke to the words of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - "Be calm, be kind" - on day one of a national lockdown.

Photos around the country showed Kiwis adhering to the new rules to stay home unless they were an essential worker, like nurses in uniform heading to hospital on the few buses still running.

Buses are still running in Central Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig
Buses are still running in Central Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig

Other photos showed rows of empty lanes on motorways usually teaming with rush-hour traffic as the country embraces the restrictions of alert level 4 in the fight against Covid-19, which, so far, has infected 205 New Zealanders.

Despite the picture of emptiness, Police Commissioner Mike Bush said his staff have encountered people who say "they are not even aware" of New Zealand's lockdown status.

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Police stop a family in a car on Mayoral Drive, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Police stop a family in a car on Mayoral Drive, Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

He assured Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning they had made the comments with a straight face.

But he was sure most New Zealanders would obey the rules.

West End Road, Westmere, looking back to Auckland City. Photo / Alex Robertson
West End Road, Westmere, looking back to Auckland City. Photo / Alex Robertson

When asked how police would enforce the rules and make sure those out and about were out for a good reason, he said police officers may follow you.

"If they've got a good reason - if they're an essential worker or if they're going to the supermarket or if they're going to get food or health supplies - that's fine.

"If not, stay at home. That's how you're going to save lives," said the country's top cop, echoing the message of the Prime Minister.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Bush had a low-key warning for people if they did not stick to the rules: There would be consequences.

"We'll be the friendly face of police ... until it needs to be something else, of course, if people don't comply."

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At 11.59pm on March 25 alert level 4 is activated and New Zealand goes into an unprecedented nationwide lockdown. Photo / Michael Craig
At 11.59pm on March 25 alert level 4 is activated and New Zealand goes into an unprecedented nationwide lockdown. Photo / Michael Craig

Most people are complying. In central Auckland, there were very few cars on the road, bar the odd person walking their pooch and some homeless people still on the streets. Signs at the SkyCity car park entrances read "No Entry".

A man trying to get home as the lockdown comes into effect in Auckland. photo / Michael Craig
A man trying to get home as the lockdown comes into effect in Auckland. photo / Michael Craig

In the Wellington CBD, there was an eerie silence on what would usually be the busiest time of day.

There was a slight hustle and bustle of pedestrians but hardly a car in sight, or a cyclist for that matter.

A boy cycles past a closed cafe in Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Alex Robertson
A boy cycles past a closed cafe in Westmere, Auckland. Photo / Alex Robertson

The service station on Taranaki St in downtown Wellington was open, but there was just one car on the forecourt when a reporter went past. It was the same in the Hutt Valley, a dead zone.

A woman walking her dog on Oriental Bay in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A woman walking her dog on Oriental Bay in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

On busy Papanui Rd in Christchurch, a petrol station had its doors closed and what traffic there was was flowing freely.

An LED sign usually warning of traffic was warning of essential traffic only, and sharing the message to be calm and be kind.

It's still March, but WeatherWatch points out that we passed the autumn equinox last Friday, so our nights are now longer than our days. Daylight saving ends soon, on April 5.

Victoria Avenue in Whanganui. Photo / Bevan Conley
Victoria Avenue in Whanganui. Photo / Bevan Conley

As if the lockdown isn't enough, mental health experts are warning that we could also be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder - or SAD.

"It's all probably just going to add to the stress," says Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson.

A City Guardian on Tutanekai Street in Rotorua. photo / Stephen Parker
A City Guardian on Tutanekai Street in Rotorua. photo / Stephen Parker

He says the lockdown is an opportunity to put more time into "taking notice".

"Our lives are slowing down a bit, they are going to be simplified for the next four weeks. It's important for people to take that time to take a bit of notice of what's going on with themselves," he says.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge has very little traffic. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Auckland Harbour Bridge has very little traffic. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Wellington train station is completely empty just after 6.30am. Photo / Adam Cooper
Wellington train station is completely empty just after 6.30am. Photo / Adam Cooper
Very light traffic on the normally congested State Highway One motorway at Johnsonville. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Very light traffic on the normally congested State Highway One motorway at Johnsonville. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pedestrians keeping a safe distance from each other along an eerily quiet Lambton Quay in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Pedestrians keeping a safe distance from each other along an eerily quiet Lambton Quay in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Waikato River crossing on State Highway one near Hamilton. Photo / Mike Scott
Waikato River crossing on State Highway one near Hamilton. Photo / Mike Scott