Hospitality and arts rejoices as nightlife reopens for level 1

As New Zealand heads into our first Saturday night in level 1, party-goers are making the most of our hard-won freedom.

The hospitality and arts sectors also have reason to celebrate, finally enjoying a normal weekend of business for the first time since March.

It's been a long time since Friday nights looked alive.

Whether you were out for the beats, beers, or bouncing on the dance floor, the first night out in level 1 was off to a good start.

Bars owners were celebrating too - last night they were able to kiss goodbye to social distancing, welcoming a full house of customers through the doors.

Elizabeth Cristie owns Fringe Bar in Wellington and says level 1 is the only way her business can operate.

"It's great to be in level 1, level 2 was really stressful," she says. "We could only operate like a restaurant which was not practical."

But there's no denying it will take some time for the hospitality industry to bounce back. Over lockdown, spending dropped by 93 percent on the previous year.

Hospitality NZ says although Kiwis are back spending, significant damage was caused by the lockdown.

"The restrictions the Government put on us were really tough, they were really hard to deliver customer service," CEO Julie White says.

And the arts sector is also back in business with overwhelming public support.

Wellington Orchestra has sold more than a 1000 tickets for its six shows in just a few days.

"It just shows people are dying to get back to live music really, there's nothing like it, you just can't beat the magic of live performance," says Wellington Orchestra general manager Kirsten Marson.

And they're not alone. Drum and Bass group Breaking Beats sold all 1400 tickets to their gig within minutes.

Breaking Beats DJ Chris Keimig says he can't believe the amount of support he's received.

"It's a great feeling. We were all in lockdown wondering if we were going to be able to do what we do," he says.

"[It] feels great to be able to have that support from the local community."

That support extending all across the country with Kiwis keen to enjoy weekend life as it was, and all the fun that comes with it.