COVID-19: Kiwis scramble to leave Auckland amid alert level 3 enforcement

Thousands of Kiwis rushed to leave Auckland as alert level 3 restrictions came into effect on Wednesday.

Police have nine checkpoints across the city's northern and southern borders, which stretch up to Wellsford and down to Pukekohe. Every person attempting to enter or exit is stopped, and only people travelling for essential reasons are allowed to pass.

Bay of Plenty resident Barbara Wheto packed her car with as many possessions as possible, and was forced to leave behind her family and pregnant daughter in Auckland.

"My daughter is pregnant, she's moving and it's all a bit up in the air all of a sudden, which is a concern," she says.

Another person says they want to visit a sick family member.

"I just need to have a quick visit because my dad is really sick, and then I'll be back to work."

The uncertainty that surrounds Auckland's level 3 lockdown means it's a one-way road out for now.

The military have been called in as reinforcements, but Sergeant Andrew Heath from the Counties Manukau road policing team says the checkpoints are about safety.

"At this stage we're going to have to largely rely on people's word."

Anyone caught flouting the rules will be given warning, but the police can prosecute people at level 3.

"There is a power of arrest for people who are breaching the conditions," he says. "[It's] a last resort - we really don't want to be arresting people."

He adds most people are following the rules and he doesn't expect too much non-compliance.