Rugby crowds have returned to Kingsland - spending dosh on drinks and kai and bringing smiles to happy business owners - ahead of today's Blues v Hurricanes game at Eden Park.
The game will see the Blues play in front of their biggest home crowd in more than a decade. The Super Rugby Aotearoa game is the first professional rugby match in three months following the cancellation of the game globally because of Covid-19.
Steve Gillett, owner of The Kingslander, says he's excited about getting all the locals and rugby fans out and about again.
"It's been a massive hiatus between March and now and a long time between drinks after Covid-19 shut us down for more than eight weeks," Gillett said.
"This is busier than usual definitely, it's unprecedented to have a Blues game that's a sell out but we're just thrilled to have supporters from both sides coming here to the Kingslander."
The pub was packed with queues of up to 30 people forming outside two hours before the game.
New Zealand's move to alert level 1 last Monday means restrictions and mass gatherings have been lifted and sporting events and other venues can host crowds.
The Blues have discounted general admission tickets, allowing children to attend for free, and this has resulted in more than 26,000 tickets having been sold.
Blues fan James Gataulu, 44, said it's been hard over the Covid-19 lockdown period when there were no sports even on television.
"I'm just thrilled to be out today, it doesn't matter if the Blues win or lose, it just feels good to be out and to be at a rugby game again," Gataulu said.
His wife Bex Baretta-Gataulu, 42, said attending the game with her husband is a "great excuse for a date".
Kingsland local Vinnie Patullo, 32, said the game also marked the suburb "doing a Lazarus", referring to the Biblical story of Lazarus who was brought back from the dead by Jesus.
"I'm no rugby fan, but it's just great to see the crowds back and the shops doing real business again," Patullo said.
Louis Whaanga, 48, who drove three hours from Whangarei to watch the game, says he wanted to be "part of history".
"It's a great story to tell your mates that you were at the first rugby game after New Zealanders won our fight against Covid-19," Whaanga said.
Eden Park chief executive Nick Saunter this week told NZME that the reopening of live events was huge for business and also brought back jobs for several staff.
The Blues games against the Hurricanes kicks off at 3.35pm today.