Queenstown mayor condemns Aucklanders breaking COVID restrictions to travel south

Queenstown Lakes Mayor says it's "unbelievable" Aucklanders aren't getting the message to stay in the city and are continuing to travel around the country, breaking COVID-19 restrictions.

Police on Thursday said a 36-year-old man has been arrested and charged for allegedly breaching COVID-19 restrictions after he travelled from Auckland to Wanaka. 

The man left Auckland and travelled to Wellington on October 8 before heading to Wanaka on October 12.

He has been charged with failing to comply with a COVID-19 order.

This comes a month after equestrian William Willis and his lawyer partner Hannah Rawnsley allegedly flouted alert level 4 lockdown rules to travel to Wānaka.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said he was shocked Aucklanders, who are in alert level 3, continue to break restrictions.

"I just find it unbelievable that people aren't getting the message," he told Newshub. "They just continue to put our population in danger, both from a health perspective and economically. I just wish that they used their brains."

He said the region normally loves having visitors but only when it's safe.

"We love Aucklanders because they are massively important to our economy but please obey the rules and we look forward to seeing you in our part of the world when it is safe to do so."

When asked if new restrictions need to be implemented to stop it happening again, Boult said instead Kiwis need to consider others.

"I don't think it is possible to stop people who are determined to break the rules so I would rather just say to people - just take note of what you are doing. Just think about your actions and please don't do it."

Following Thursday's arrest, Otago Lakes Central Police issued a reminder to people that they need an exemption to travel outside of a level 3 area.

"Police will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who are deliberately breaching lockdown restrictions," a spokesperson said.