COVID-19: Dr Ashley Bloomfield reflects on one thing he wishes he did differently

It's been one year today since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sent our country into a nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Ardern announced a level 4 lockdown on March 23 2020 - and with 102 confirmed cases, she said it was important to "break the chain of community transmission".

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield won the hearts of Kiwis for his cool, calm leadership as he fronted daily press conferences alongside the Prime Minister.

Having fronted 40 press conferences in just over two months, Dr Bloomfield revealed that, despite his calm appearance, it actually took a toll on his mental health.

When asked whether there was anything he'd change in terms of his COVID response, Dr Bloomfield said he would have liked to have kept a personal record.

"Well the one thing I would do differently I say is, I would keep a record," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"A personal record because it was all such a blur - things were moving at pace."

The level 4 lockdown began on March 25, 2020 at 11:59pm. All schools, workplaces and non-essential businesses were ordered closed.

New Zealanders were urged to stay home where possible and only leave home for essential purposes such as grocery shopping.

And despite the panic buying at supermarkets, empty shelves, and a nationwide frenzy over toilet-paper, Dr Bloomfield said he's extremely grateful Kiwis came together in a collective effort.

"My main recollection about when that decision was made and then communicated to the public was I don't remember people saying 'why'," he told reporters.

"People understood why and my sense was there was a collective sigh of relief and people said, 'okay what do you want us to do?' and the message was quite simple then - stay home, save lives, be kind. And that was so successful, people embraced that so widely, I think we exceeded what we set out to do.

"But I do personally recall a sense of relief because there had been this real anticipation that things were starting to escalate and we could see where that was heading overseas and I think we've made that decision in a very timely way."