Dr Ashley Bloomfield's date night with wife Libby at Government House

Key members of New Zealand's COVID-19 response group were invited for dinner with the Governor-General on Tuesday night.

Among the special guests were Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield and his wife Libby, Civil Defence Emergency Management boss Sarah Stuart-Black, All of Government Controller John Ombler and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay.

"They were particularly appropriate guests for the first dinner since lockdown began," Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy's blog says. 

"Dame Patsy thanked them for their service and acknowledged the enormous responsibility they had shouldered. 

"She noted how they had used their expertise and communication skills to instil confidence in their fellow citizens and encourage a sense of collective responsibility for the nation's wellbeing."

Photos of the dinner party at Government House were also shared on social media, featuring the Governor-General's husband Sir David Gascoigne and their dog, Coco.

New Zealand's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been near-universally applauded around the world, with the nation's lockdown successful in limiting transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

While New Zealand has recorded 1504 cases of the illness, there are only 22 cases which remain active.

Dr Bloomfield has received particular international attention for his calm, measured approach to delivering often tragic news about the COVID-19 situation in New Zealand. A song about him has gone viral, while there is also a petition calling for him to be named New Zealander of the Year for guiding the country through the crisis.