Drive-throughs were packed, the smell of freshly-ground coffee returned to cafes and construction sites hummed, signalling the return to level 3.
After two weeks of strict level 4 restrictions, many businesses were able to partially re-open for contactless pick-up, delivery or drive-through on Wednesday.
It brought a sense of relief for business owners and consumers alike.
Rotorua Rockshop branch manager Richard Anaru said day one had been "surprisingly busy".
"We're getting a lot of people coming in and picking their items up so it's been quite good."
However, Anaru said this lockdown was "very different" than the last one.
"Business has not flowed as well in terms of [starting] a hobby ... from people looking for that sort of thing.
"That's what we've noticed from the customers – they've had to lay off a little bit."
Anaru believed this was because the second lockdown locally had prompted people to think this could be an "ongoing thing" and made them look at their financial situations.
"They've gone, 'Well do I need to do this? I need to see what the next week is going to look like [and] the following week'."
Urbo Homes director Martin Dobbe said staff were "stoked" to get back to work.
"The jobs have been sitting idle, clients have been waiting, and people haven't been able to work," he said.
"We are relishing the opportunity to get back out there and get back into it."
On Wednesday morning, Dobbe said staff at the Bay of Plenty building company were "racing around" setting up work sites so they were suitable to operate at alert level 3.
"We obviously can't have too many people on site but I don't think it is going to be too restrictive for us," he said.
"I am just looking forward to everyone getting vaccinated and trying to carry on with where we were before."
Renee Mua and her kids were first in line at the KFC drive-through at 9am this morning and placed her order at 10.30am.
Mua's 12-year-old son Rawiri Tawhai said: "It feels good because I can finally have KFC again."
Kawaha Point resident Brendon Kenny said it was "good to grab a coffee" and "go back to support Zippy's (Zippy Central Cafe) again".
"Just to say g'day and make sure everyone's alright and surviving. They're happy as."
Kenny, who works for Property Inspect BOP, said it was his first day back at work today.
"It's good just to be out and about again instead of closed in between your four walls."
Rotorua Business Chamber chief executive Bryce Heard said the alert level change was a
"step in the right direction" but would have little benefit to most businesses.
Heard said most businesses would be operating "well below" 50 per cent of their normal income — if operating at all.
Rotorua Girls' High School principal Sarah Davis said the move to level 3 had gone "more conservatively" than last time.
"We don't have anyone other than the admin team at school," she said.
Some senior painting students would go to school next week to do some portfolio work after successfully applying for a dispensation through the Ministry of Education, she said.
Q Records and Collectables owner Quentin McIntosh said he had set up an area for people to collect their goods but the week had been "rather slow" so far.
"We're trying to do everything we can to have some sort of income.
"Over the last couple of weeks [in lockdown] people have been really good with ticking along online," he said.
"Our in-store retail went to zero overnight like a lot of other businesses so the online has been good."
When customers ordered online they were scheduled a time to pick up their order, he said.
"We have the sign-in tracer app there and we have their goods ready to pick up, but the rest of the shop is quarantined off so they can't stay and browse unfortunately and that's where we want to be which is level two."
Scope cafe owner Dana Greer said the cafe would not open this week despite the shift to level three because there was "so much uncertainty".
Greer said the cafe was considering reopening next week "depending on developments".
"If level three stays for weeks and weeks ... then we will trial a short menu next week."
Following the trial, Greer said she would reassess the costs and return.
"We're not sure if it's financially viable to open at level three for us.
"We gave away over $10,000 worth of food when we closed this lockdown.
"For us to reorder all that stock ... prep and then go back into level four again, we just can't afford it."
In a statement, a police spokeswoman said police would continue to randomly stop people across the Bay of Plenty to ensure movement is for essential purposes only, and they were urging people to stay in their region at level 3.
She said police would still take an education-first approach but move to enforcement action quickly where needed.
"For the safety of our communities, it is absolutely vital that everyone continues to adhere to the restrictions in place."
Data about compliance today will be made available tomorrow.
Covid-19 latest developments
• 75 new community cases and one MIQ case today;
• 687 total community cases in New Zealand;
• 32 cases in hospital, with eight in ICU including three on ventilators;
• 54 per cent of eligible population have received one dose of vaccine;
• More than 85 per cent of people aged 65-plus have one dose;
• 34,832 contacts identified in latest outbreak;
• 22,158 virus tests completed in 24-hours before update. More than 3 million total;
• No unexpected wastewater detections discovered.