Shops have opened their doors - but many are not as busy as they might have hoped on the first morning of alert level 2.

The carpark was slowly starting to fill up at Westfield Albany just after 9am.

Several shoppers told the Herald they were there to buy practical household goods they could not find online in alert level 3.

Zack Liang picked up new baby clothes, a kid's chair and a laundry rack for his one-week-old baby at home.

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Liang, who has been working as a courier throughout lockdown, said he had been hanging out for level 2, but would keep wearing a mask to supermarkets and other public places for the forseeable future.

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Other trolleys contained cleaning goods like vacuums and mops, kitchen appliances, pots and pans and muffin tins.

Inside the mall, the ProfessioNAIL nail and beauty salon was almost full.

More than a dozen Aucklanders were waiting patiently in line on the North Shore's Birkenhead Avenue to get a fresh haircut early today. Video / Brett Phibbs

At Kmart, the checkout queue was at least 50 people long, but was moving fast. Children's clothes, toys and basic household goods like pillows seemed to be the items in most trolleys.

Abbey Fouché emerged from Kmart in Albany with two trolleys piled high and lugging two big bags - all for charity.

She founded the Mum's Clique, which supports mums with services like self defence classes and gift boxes containing a mix of essential and self-care items, such as nappies, baby wipes, journals and hand cream.

Abbey Fouché, 27, with daughters Camilla, 9, and Faith, 2, at Westfield Albany. Photo / Dubby Henry
Abbey Fouché, 27, with daughters Camilla, 9, and Faith, 2, at Westfield Albany. Photo / Dubby Henry

They were running low on supplies so she put in an order to Kmart three weeks ago but it still hadn't arrived so she braved the queues today - saving money for the charity as many of her purchases were marked down.

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In the past few days she's had 300 to 400 women request a box, compared to the typical week of 50 to 70 requests.

"It's been a massive increase, people are really struggling. They've lost jobs, women are stuck with domestic violence and have had to leave. It's really sad."

At the same time as the need has soared, charities are desperate for donations.

Her 9-year-old daughter Camilla was pushing a trolley and had been helping her pack boxes.

At Northwest Mall, there were queues of people waiting for haircuts.

People queuing for a haircut at Northwest Mall. Photo / Dean Purcell
People queuing for a haircut at Northwest Mall. Photo / Dean Purcell

At Hamilton's The Base Shopping Centre, there was a queue of about 30 shoppers outside The Warehouse at 8.30am.

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The centre didn't open until 9am but traffic management and signs were in place.

Shirley and Bruce Alcock were lining up outside the Warehouse at 8am. They'd travelled from Huntly to get some supplies - potting mix.

A beauty and nail salon in Albany is almost full this morning. Photo / Dubby Henry
A beauty and nail salon in Albany is almost full this morning. Photo / Dubby Henry

Also on the cards for many people today were haircuts.

Hamilton couple Sarah and Zac decided to brave the brisk morning and stock up on thermals.

They were looking forward to level 2, getting back to work, but anxious about the potential for crowds today.

A shopper gets in early at Westfield Albany in Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig
A shopper gets in early at Westfield Albany in Auckland. Photo / Michael Craig

In Wellington, the iconic cable car was back up and running on what was described as a "beautiful level 2 morning".

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Despite the driver giving a toot and a big wave, there were no passengers on its first trip after level 3 lockdown.

Lambton Quay was still subdued at about 8.30am, as workers eased back into the swing of things.

The car park at Northwest Mall is filling up. Photo / Dean Purcell.
The car park at Northwest Mall is filling up. Photo / Dean Purcell.

And despite the resumption of domestic travel, Wellington Airport was still a ghost town this morning. Only passengers with valid tickets and airport staff were being allowed into the terminal.

Whanganui's Mud Ducks cafe had several tables of customers through the door this morning and staff were helping customers dine safely.

"It's been a bit of a process just trying to see how everything is going to fit in and trying to get customers doing what they're supposed to be doing as well. You really have to direct people quite a lot," manager Tim Watson said.

"It's about the same so far [as level 2] but now people have come in and sat down, have had breakfast - as opposed to having a scone type thing."

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Whanganui roofer Chris Campbell had been back at work since level 3 and would be spending the day the same way he had in the past two weeks.

But he was looking forward to "having the freedom of not being locked up inside and being able to go out and socialise with people, have a beer or two".