Protest on first day under orange light, but most embrace COVID-19 vaccine passes

While Auckland is under red traffic light rules, most of the rest of the country is adjusting to life under the orange light.

For these areas it's business-as-usual for the vaccinated - with the addition of dancing - but those without a vaccine pass will face restrictions.

There's a new code in town. It's taking some people a bit of time to find, but others are well prepared. A few left it to the last minute, joining the 3.25 million Kiwis with a vaccine passport on Friday.

Businesses have to at least look at the passes - and are encouraged to scan and check against ID.

"We've had to have an extra person on the door, it gets quite busy here," said Gina Mills of Spruce Goose Restaurant.

"It just feels like another layer of work… most people are on to it, not everyone," added Beach Babylon co-owner Simon Holtham.

Holtham's cafe is busy - although it's missing a few locals.

"We've got a couple of regulars who've been coming in for over a decade, and for whatever reason they're not vaccinated," he said.

They'll still be able to go to the farmer's market - the sprawling waterfront event classified as 'retail' - which doesn't require a pass.

"While they do have food trucks, they are food trucks that people take away from," Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said of the event.

But for the unvaccinated minority, going into places like hairdressers, gyms and cafes is off the menu. 

"Not good - I just got turned away from Starbucks," one person said.

A group of protesters in Christchurch gathered on Friday, unhappy with those restrictions.

Even some of the vaccinated are worried - though most are embracing the passports.

It's also a passport to dance - Jack Parry's organising a rave for 600 people at a Wellington warehouse.

There's no cap on numbers because all guests will be double-jabbed.

"We're just over the moon - can't stress how relieving it was to get back on," he said.

For many, it will be the first boogie in months - and it's anticipated scores more people will be dusting off the dancing shoes this weekend. At Dakota in Wellington, the infamous mechanical bull is back in action after being off limits at alert level 2.

Those in traffic light red should be able to enjoy orange light freedoms soon. Even if Auckland is still in red when the border opens on December 15, once you travel you don't need to take those restrictions with you.

But remember your vaccine pass because they are being strict - bouncers will be checking ID as well as the vaccine passport to ensure there's no fraud.