Coronavirus: Kiwis wake early to queue for McDonald's as alert level 3 begins

After more than four weeks without takeaways, Kiwis have woken early to queue for burgers and hot chips.

Footage from Wellington shows long queues heading into the Basin Reserve McDonald's, with customers Newshub spoke to saying they had missed their nuggets and chips during lockdown.

The AM Show reporter Ashleigh McCaull said some customers she spoke to had been waiting in line since midnight for the store to open at 5am.

"They said they were keen to get a couple of cheeseburgers and they said they wanted to wait that long all because they are massive McDonald's fans," she said.

"Another group of girls, they had been waiting here since 4:30am this morning, and lockdown had been tough on them. All they wanted to do was to get some chicken nuggets.

"That's all they wanted. They were so excited for nuggets. I literally heard them screaming on the way out of the car park out of happiness."

McCaull said when she first arrived at 5am there were queues out on to the road, but by around 6:15am, it had settled down.

"It looks like Kiwis are waiting for the grill to heat up before they come to McDonald's."

Customers queue for their food.
Customers queue for their food. Photo credit: Newshub.
Coronavirus: Kiwis wake early to queue for McDonald's as alert level 3 begins
Photo credit: Newshub.
McDonald's on Auckland's Lincoln Rd.
McDonald's on Auckland's Lincoln Rd. Photo credit: Newshub.

"5.15am on the first day of Level 3 and it seems a few people missed their McDonald's!" one person said on Twitter.

Send your photos of queues at takeaway stores to

At alert level 3, businesses can reopen if they can limit face-to-face interaction with customers and introduce strict health and safety protocols. There'll be no dining in, with customers having to use the drive-thru and at some establishments only having a limited menu to choose from. Contactless payment is also encouraged. 

"Whether it's social distancing or contactless service, sanitation and cleanliness is a huge part of it. Making sure that our crew is up-to-date with new procedures so there's a lot of training and communication going on that's really important," Murray Traill, the owner of a South Island McDonald's, said ahead of opening.

McCaull said McDonald's is taking cash. Workers are wearing gloves which are replaced every hour and are not handling money at the same window that food is passed out through.

Those heading to their closest store are asked to be patient with workers during what will be a hectic time.

"People have been deprived of something and there's a built-up desire," addiction expert and researcher Professor Doug Sellman previously told Newshub.

"If you can't have something, human beings want it."

In some locations, traffic management is being brought in to help with the large queues.

The Whanganui District Council posted on its website saying demand was expected to be "high"

"To minimise congestion and disruption to traffic flow we will put traffic management measures in place on Tuesday, 28 April near McDonald's and Burger King in Victoria Avenue and near the McDonald's in Liffiton Street. Traffic management will be in place near KFC on Victoria Avenue when it reopens on Thursday, 30 April," the council's senior roading engineer Brent Holmes said.

McDonald's will have 137 of 169 restaurants open from Tuesday, while all 71 Burger King stores will be open. KFC, Subways, Domino's and Carl's Jr are also reopening in different formats. Many restaurants will be delivering food.

UberEats has also launched several new restaurant initiatives to support Kiwi businesses. 

Independent restaurants across New Zealand Australia are being given up to $5 million to use on in-app promotions for customers. There will be no service fees for restaurants on pickup orders until June 30 as well as no sign-up fees for new restaurants and caterers until May 4.

The Restaurant Association has called on Kiwis to support the local hospitality industry where they can.

"Our restaurants and cafes are a much loved part of our communities. We know that diners have their favourite places so for anyone now sick of their own cooking, this is the perfect opportunity to get out and revisit your local eateries," said chief executive Marisa Bidois.

"Restaurateurs are an innovative and collaborative lot and as you might expect many of them have adapted their offering to cater to changing needs. This includes take out options, home delivery and gift vouchers for use at a later date."

Bidois encouraged customers to deal directly with stores.