Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged people to remain cautious, saying "we have not won the war" against Covid-19, as she announced the move down to Alert Level 2 on Thursday.
“We may have won a few battles, but we have not won the war. We are still recording cases most days,” she said.
“New information about the virus indicates it could be spread prior to a person being symptomatic, meaning it can be passed on by seemingly healthy people.
“The scientists that have advised us so well to date say there is still a chance of silent spread in the future and, therefore, cases taking off again.”
Due to the risk, she said all New Zealanders needed to continue acting as a team to form a “wall of protection” for one another.
“Over the weekend, I read a letter from a mother who spoke about what that team effort has meant to her,” Ms Ardern said.
“Her young son has compromised immunity and, as a result, is on constant medication.
“When covid arrived in the form of a global pandemic, she was terrified, but she was writing to me out of sheer relief. There may be no cure, no vaccine for covid yet, but there was each and every one of you."
“Every single Kiwi who made the decision to stay home to make sacrifices, and you did that for her boy. You did something for someone’s mother, for someone’s father, someone’s child.”
The country is set to move down to Alert Level 2 on Thursday.
Cinemas, shops, playgrounds and gyms can reopen on Thursday as long as physical distancing rules are followed. Domestic travel will also resume.
Schools will reopen for all from Monday, and on May 21 bars will be able to reopen.
Gatherings will be restricted to 10 people.