COVID-19: Chris Hipkins warns coronavirus will continue spreading around New Zealand

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins warns it's just a matter of time before the coronavirus spreads around the country.

Speaking at his media standup on Wednesday alongside Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Hipkins urged Kiwis to get vaccinated in time.

"It should be clear to everybody now that despite everybody's best efforts - and they have been huge - we are more likely to see cases emerging outside of Auckland," he said.

"No country has been able to stamp out Delta once it's taken hold and that's likely to be the same for us. So it's not a question of 'if' cases will emerge outside of Auckland, it is a question of 'when'.

"That might sound stark, but as one of my colleagues said last week, Delta is now on your doorstep."

This was a reference to comments made by Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare, who warned Māori that "COVID-19 is on the doorstep of your houses".

Hipkins said the best thing New Zealanders can do to protect themselves, their families and their communities is to get vaccinated.

"The best thing we can do to enjoy greater freedoms and ensure we have greater freedoms over Christmas and summer when I know people want to get together is to make sure we have as high rates of vaccination as possible," he told the public.

"When we reach the point where COVID-19 does make it out of Auckland the higher the rate of vaccination we have across the country, the less likely we are to have our summer plans disrupted through extra COVID-19 alert restrictions."

On Wednesday there were 74 new cases of COVID-19 in the community - 68 of these in Auckland. And with six in the Waikato, Hipkins said cases are still emerging in the region and the outbreak "is not fully contained yet".

The region deserves a chance at stamping out the outbreak, he said. There could be a long tail to the Waikato outbreak, but the minister still thinks it's possible to stamp it out.

Meanwhile Dr Bloomfield said it is encouraging there have been no further cases in Northland and cases there remain confined to contacts.