New Zealanders "proud" to have their lives back

It's a scene many around the world haven't had for months -- cafes full with customers and no plastic dividers, drinks with the mates after work and pilates classes in full swing.

Life returned to normal for New Zealanders on Tuesday (June 9) after it became one of the first countries in the world to lift social distancing limits.

In a cafe in Wellington, cafe-goers welcomed the news.

"Feeling just quite relaxed and everyone else feeling relaxed around you. You're not trying to avoid people and you can talk to people without feeling like you need to stand back, yeah."

Yesterday leader Jacinda Ardern announced the nation would lift all restrictions except for border controls and when asked how she celebrated, she answered: "I did a little dance."

She encouraged fellow Kiwis to unite and support local businesses, to get the country's economy ticking back to life.

For cafe manager Kate Ellis, she was overjoyed to see customers lining up.

"Yeah that's obviously a really big thing for us because obviously seats are all back in so we've removed all the social distancing and that's what allows us to have a lot more people in the café, it's really great to generate that absolute buzz and that real feeling of more normality really."

New Zealand will also be one of the first countries to allow people to watch professional sports at stadiums with no limits on crowd numbers.

Thousands are expected to pack into a stadiums for the opening weekend of the domestic rugby union competition.