Watch: Everything you need to know about the COVID-19 alert level 3 rules

It's been a long three weeks dreaming of the good old days, but the Government has finally revealed what lies ahead post-COVID-19 lockdown under alert level 3.

With the guidelines unveiled, Kiwis told Newshub what they miss the most, including one woman who said she's excited to visit her mum, while another said she's just looking forward to "having a coffee in a café" with friends.

"Being able to socialise with my friends and family again" is what got another Kiwi excited about the lockdown lifting soon. While another told Newshub she's just "craving a Pad Thai".

All of those sacrifices have been worth it, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pointing out that New Zealand is in a unique position to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have an opportunity to do something no other country has achieved, elimination of the virus, but it will continue to need a team of 5 million behind it," she said on Thursday.

But preparing the national team for a shift from level 4 to level 3 comes with a warning: we won't come out of lockdown unless we're truly ready.

"The last thing we want to do when moving levels is give away the gains that we have won in lockdown," the Prime Minister said.

Level 3 is still very restrictive, with Ardern stating, "It's not a rush to normality - many things will feel the same as they do now."

But there are tweaks to the current rules and some 'bubbles' can grow.

"If you have a caregiver that you need in your life, children in a shared care arrangement, a de facto partner caring for others, or you're a single person who wants the company of a sibling, for example, you can extend your bubble."

Losing loved ones in lockdown is heart-breaking - no personal contact in those final moments, no funerals or tangi. At level 3, small funerals are allowed but with no more than 10 people.

"As you will have seen from some of our devastating clusters, life events means a major risk," Ardern said.

That means big weddings are out. A level 3 wedding is a party of 10 or less, with no food and no reception.

"If there is any sign of congregation we will not hesitate to review these changes," Ardern said.

That goes for other fun stuff too. Motorised recreational activities are prohibited.  You can swim, surf, and fish from the shore, but only on your own or in your 'bubble'.

Surfer Andy Nelson told Newshub the rules aren't quite clear to him.

"We don't know whether we're going to be able to actually drive to the break and surf or whether it's only people who are able to walk to the break, but [I] definitely [want to] be in the water as soon as I can."

And for surfing, or anything risky, the Prime Minister is leaving it to the pros.

"Now is not the time to take up a new activity that you have not done before - it is too risky."

Some regional travel will be permitted for things like essential work, relocating, medical or compassionate reasons.

"If you live in Hamilton, don't go to Auckland, but if you live in Auckland and your work is across town, you'll need to travel," Ardern explained.

But travel is still heavily restricted because at level 3 we are not out of the woods, with Ardern saying, "There is still a high risk the virus can get out of control and bounce back."

And if it does, the country will go straight back to lockdown.

"Level 3 isn't about tolerating any increases," she said.

Newshub asked Ardern if she would move the country back into lockdown if she saw a slight shift up in the number of cases, and she replied: "This is why we call level 3 really the recovery room. This is where we hold, we see if we're really well and if we can keep moving."

Analysis by Political Editor Tova O'Brien

Monday is D-Day, so will the Prime Minister actually announce a shift out of lockdown then?

A few days ago when we weren't testing enough and before contact tracing improved, the answer would have been no, probably not.

But if the case numbers and those other indicators remain as positive as they were on Thursday, it's looking extremely likely we will come out of lockdown next week.

The Prime Minister indicated that level shifts would be done in blocks of two or four weeks. Newshub understands if things keep going well, two weeks in level three is the preference.

And on the prospect of regional level shifts - something the PM had previously been quite interested in - that's now the Government's least preferred option. 

All that said, manage your expectations. A move to level 3 is not a foregone conclusion and even if we do come out of lockdown, normality doesn't really return until level 2.