COVID-19: Chronically-ill Northlander trapped in Auckland due to police checkpoints, can't access doctor

A chronically-ill Northland resident who lives straddling Auckland's alert level 3 border is stuck city-side and isn't allowed to access medical services minutes from their home.

John Brown lives with his ill wife in Mangawhai which is just north of one of the police's northern border checkpoints. However, their house is just two kilometres away from the township on the other side of the border and is classed as 'Auckland'.

"We are Northlanders and we've been prohibited from getting our medical services from our doctor and pharmacy," Brown says.

The COVID-19 website says there are four automatic exemptions for travelling out of the Auckland region. They are returning to your primary home, maintaining a shared childcare arrangement, relocating a home or business and accessing medical services.

Despite this, Brown says he's been told by border staff to travel up to 50 kilometres to Wellsford or Warkworth - both of which are in Auckland.

Brown and his family have applied for an exemption to cross the border, but his application is among more than 3500 received by the Ministry of Health. Only 381 have been granted so far.

It wasn't the only border conundrum in Auckland on Monday. Gridlock reached monumental levels in south Auckland, with essential workers and truckies taking up to four hours to travel just five kilometres through police roadblocks.

The Road Transport Forum says it's been "chaotic" for drivers, and essential worker Emily McQuillan says it took three hours to travel what should normally be just a five minute drive.

Police say over 50,000 cars have been stopped at its checkpoints, and as of Sunday just 676 vehicles have been turned around.

At times, police stood idle waiting for cars to be ushered through, and Newshub's been told too many motorists don't have their documentation ready. People need to show proof they're allowed to cross the borders.

"It will take time to see why people are travelling and some of those conversations aren't always quick," Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers says.

Police were left red-faced on Monday after SkyCity revealed two people slipped through the border on Thursday to gamble at Hamilton's casino, but eagle-eyed casino staff sent them packing.

"Some people are trying to get through our checkpoints," Asst Cmmr Chambers says.