They emerged from their homes, some for the first time in more than four weeks.
And the first thing on many people's minds yesterday - food. Not the home-cooked variety either. Takeaway burgers. Takeaway muffins. Takeaway coffee.
At lunch time, the queue for the McDonald's Taupō drive-through had 33 cars in, many with young children, all waiting patiently for up to half an hour for their fast-food fix. In town, cafes that were open were not rushed off their feet but there was a steady flow of customers seeking a coffee fix or a baked treat.
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Outside Replete Cafe & Store, school teacher Kylie Parkes had just put in a morning at work preparing for children to return to school today and had treated herself to a takeaway coffee - her first in four weeks, and a cheese scone to go with it. Mrs Parkes said the outing to school and town was the first time she had been out in four weeks and she was enjoying it.
In the McDonald's drive-through queue which stretched all the way down Tuwharetoa St to Titiraupenga St, two cars containing mothers with back seats full of children in car seats said they had come out treat for their youngsters and did not mind having to wait.
"I promised him McDonald's once the lockdown ended...he loves his Happy Meals," said one of her toddler in the back.
Up the road, people waited 2m back from the Streetwise Coffee cart for their caffeine hit, while Kefi in Horomatangi St was operating a contactless window-ordering system and dishing up coffees and food from its cabinet.
Owner Alexi Kapetaneas said he and wife Natalie had spent lockdown redoing their website kefitaupo.com and social media platforms and developed an app for contactless ordering. They were now offering dinner deliveries, food and coffee pickups via phone and online order and had also set up contactless ordering on site at their two cafes while also being mindful of social distancing.
Mr Kapetaneas said Kefi had been using the Government wage subsidy to pay its 15 staff and hoped to be able to keep them all employed.
"My brother has two franchises in Canada and he just had to let everybody go. But we've got amazing staff and it's hard to find amazing staff. We just want to get back to business, and they all do as well."
Chris Johnston, who owns Replete Cafe & Store and also half-owns Eat Catering and Plateau Bar & Eatery, said to be able to open at level 3 he had set up a replete2go.com website so that people could order and pay online or at the window. He had also tweaked the menu to produce foods that were easy to put together, including heat and eat meals for those wanting a break from making their own dinners.
Reopening Replete had provided work to five of his staff, whereas normally he would have work for around eight people during the winter months, Mr Johnston said. Plateau was unable to reopen until at least Level 2.
He said it was nice to be able to reinstate Replete and it had been a pleasure to see regular customers and locals again but feared that Taupō was over-subscribed with cafes and that without tourists in town, some would not survive. However he hoped that if the alert level was moved to allow domestic travel, that Taupō would benefit from its central location.
Along the lakefront and after nearly five weeks off work, builder Matt Mariu and his Navigation Homes team were back to work on a new build in the Nga Roto Estate near Wharewaka.
Mr Mariu said when news of the lockdown came, the builders spent the day beforehand boarding up half-finished houses to make them secure before spending the next four weeks at home.
"We got the government subsidy during lockdown and our company topped us up to 80 per cent which was nice," Mr Mariu said.
"It's really good to be back to work, to get your mind going again especially in the building trade when you're always thinking about what's coming up."
He said while most tradies would be chasing their tails for the next two weeks trying to catch up, all were in the same boat and clients had been understanding of the unforeseen delay.
At Taupō's Broadlands Rd Landfill, a queue of vehicles pulling trailers piled up with waste were waiting to be let in. Yesterday was the first day the landfill had been open to accept general refuse and green waste and many people had taken the opportunity to do some DIY or cleaning up around their sections during lockdown.