Ministry of Health had no idea Air NZ's highest-risk crew were staying in Auckland CBD hotel

Newshub can reveal the Ministry of Health (MoH) had no idea our highest-risk airline crew had stayed at a hotel in the middle of Auckland's CBD until we reported it last week.

Air New Zealand didn't tell the Ministry the high-risk crew were there - so the Ministry thought they were staying in Manukau and near the airport.

The Ministry thought they were across town meaning it "wasn't able to provide feedback or guidance on public health safety measures".

COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins won't say if it was a stuff-up.

"Our officials have been working very closely with Air New Zealand around all of their arrangements for keeping aircrew safe," he said.

"We have been talking to them about where they are staying… we've certainly been having conversations with them about where they are putting people up."

The secret CBD stays come after a debacle where Air New Zealand told high-risk crew that they could leave the airline's new dedicated quarantine hotel - the Grand Windsor in downtown Auckland - to exercise.

"That clearly imposes risk of transmission," University of Otago epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker told Newshub.

The Ministry of Health thought the same. It scrambled to change its guidelines to stop crew leaving.

But the change to the guidelines came after the secret stays at the Ramada. Air New Zealand's assured the Ministry it didn't let crew staying there out to exercise but it wouldn't explain the two sets of rules for the two central city hotels.

Aircrew isolate for 48 hours instead of the standard 14 days.

Dr Baker says it's now one of the weakest points of our border.

"This current system seems to have these major weaknesses in terms of people being allowed out to exercise during that period," he says.

"We need them to keep flying so we're working very closely with them to make sure they can keep flying," Hipkins adds.

Officials at least now know where they're staying and are ensuring crew exercise inside.