Motorists are experiencing hours-long delays trying to get in and out of Auckland’s strict lockdown as animal owners have taken to exercising them on the road.
While a Northland man said he got through the northern border in about 20 minutes, most other motorists are experiencing delays of more than three hours.
One man heading from Hamilton to Auckland has been stuck in the northern checkpoint more nearly four hours and is currently only at Meremere.
The police checkpoints have been up and running within minutes of the new alert level activation announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern last night after news of a new community case.
The new case is a 21-year-old man linked to the Papatoetoe outbreak.
Not only have there been delays but motorists have spoken of inconsistencies by police in their handling of the checkpoints, with some whistling through, while others being threatened with not being able to go home.
One Hamilton woman was shocked at being asked to provide proof that she lived in the Waikato while heading home after a weekend in Waiheke.
She said the officer threatened not to let her through as all she had for proof was a driver’s licence. She asked the female cop to scan their vehicle registration to prove residence but her device was flat.
She and her husband were eventually let through.
However, her experience seemed to differ from one Northland man.
The man, who didn’t want to be named, said he couldn’t believe he was able to leave Auckland so easily, after an estimated 12-second conversation with an officer.
“I’m at a tipping point of frustration,” the man, who admitted to not being a fan of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“It just seems ridiculous. I’m cruising back up north and have been through two of these roadblocks now and the first one they wanted a lot of proof and today they asked me, ‘where are you going?’ and I said ‘I’m going home’, which is true, and he just waved me on.”
The man questioned the officer to see if he wanted to prove that he did live in Northland but the officer said that he believed him.
“I was like ‘what’s the point in this if you’re just going to take people’s word?’.”
He asked another officer who said they were simply following orders.
“I was only … the other way was insane. The roadblock is right on that Wellsford/Northland border which is just out of Te Hana.
“And, honestly, I kid you not there was a line of traffic that went from there that almost went back to Kaiwaka and it was not moving. I’m scratching my head thinking why is it harder to get back into Auckland, I would have thought it would be harder to leave.”
Luke Kirkness described his experience heading back to Tauranga as “bloody horrible”.
“It took me 2 hours and 2 minutes to get through it.”
Making it even more frustrating was being allowed to drive straight through after being asked by the officer where he was going and why.
It surprised him as he watched a motorist in front of him have to provide proof, only for him to be given the all-clear.
Making him feel slightly better about his wait was seeing the even longer queue of traffic trying to get back into Auckland on SH1 Hamilton, which seemed to stretch on for miles south of Hampton Downs.
One Auckland man was included in that traffic after leaving Hamilton at 11am only to come to a stop at 12.15pm.
By 3.45pm, he had barely moved and had only reached the Meremere turn-off.
“It’s a f****** mess,” he said.
He said it had been “stop-start” since Hampton Downs.
He had seen police escort several vehicles travelling with animals, no doubt worried about their welfare.
One motorist heading north after Hamilton’s Six60 concert has seen worried owners of animals exercising them as they were undoubtedly stressed.
“There has been a bunch of cattle and stock trucks stuck in this hectic queue … I wouldn’t be surprised if some have unfortunately died in this heat.
“Horse owners are having to calm, cool their horses by walking up and down the motorway. Horses are totally distressed and are without food and water.”
A concerned parent has also contacted the Herald stating her daughter had been stuck in the Mercer checkpoint for nearly 3 hours.
“My daughter has been stuck for 3 hours in the traffic coming to Auckland, after a trip to Taupo. She has gone 2km in 2.5 hours.
“She has no food or water, and her phone is about to die. She reckons she’ll be home at midnight if things don’t start to move more quickly.
“It’s level 3, not level 4…what on earth are the police doing?”
Another woman heading north back into Auckland, said they been stuck in traffic for 3 and a half hours, travelling just 2.5km.
“No one is going anywhere fast.” She had also spotted a woman exercising her horses.
Police are expected to provide an update on their border operation this afternoon.
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