Two men have been jailed - one for 16 years - after a series of armed robberies throughout Auckland, including three hold-ups of Armourguard cash vans and a "home invasion" at a motel.

Ivan Douglas Carr and Steven George Anderson were sentenced this morning by Justice Mathew Downs.

Their series of crimes began in October 2017 when a masked Carr and another unknown man stopped next to a parked BMW in Hillcrest and confronted the driver with a hammer.

He was then dragged out of his car before Carr and his accomplice fled in the stolen BMW with the man's phone, wallet and keys.

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Some three weeks later, Carr and another unidentified offender went to a shopping centre in Glen Eden.

In broad daylight the two men robbed an Armourguard cash van at gunpoint, with the pair making off with a little more than $11,000.

Footage of the robbery was played at trial and shows Carr pointing the gun at the Armourguard employee and a woman who was at the shops.

Carr's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, argued there was no evidence the gun was real.

"I have no doubt it was," Justice Downs said in his sentencing notes. "The imagery shows what looks like a real pistol, and what everyone at the scene believed was a real pistol."

The judge accepted there is was no evidence the pistol was loaded.

"But, your victims could not have known that, and you intended they believe otherwise," he said.

Some five weeks after the first cash van heist, in December 2017, an insurance assessor noticed a client's stolen $50,000 Volkswagen outside Carr's home.

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The assessor called police and a tow truck arrived to remove the car. Carr, however, quickly got into it and drove it away - later abandoning it.

Five months later, in April 2018, Carr stole a Subaru in Takapuna and used it in a second robbery of a cash van at a shopping mall in Milford.

Carr and another man, Thomas Hutchinson, watched the van as it made its rounds in Milford before ramming it with the Subaru when it reached the mall.

They threatened the employee with a knife and stole $34,000.

Carr and Hutchinson also snatched a handbag sitting right next to a woman on a park bench and another bag out of a nearby car in Birkenhead.

The pair then came into the city and stole a motorbike from Britomart worth $10,000.

"None of this property was recovered," Justice Downs said.

In late April 2018, Carr and another man went to a motel in Takapuna.

Carr entered one of the units with a small axe in "something like a home invasion", Justice Downs said.

"You demanded money from the family in the unit. You slapped one of the victims to the face and to the back of the head.

"His mother armed herself with a knife from the kitchen. You grabbed another of the victims, used her as a shield, and placed the axe against her neck."

The judge said: "This aspect was particularly cowardly."

Carr stole a handbag, cash, a gold watch and other items worth more than $6500.

Four days later Carr and Anderson committed a series of offences, including another cash van robbery, and the robbery of a tourist on Auckland's Queen St.

The pair's robbery on Dominion Rd of an Armourguard cash saw the men flee with $280,000.

It was that afternoon that they were finally caught by police.

Carr was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period eight years, while Anderson was jailed for a total of five years and 10 months.

Hutchinson will be sentenced at a later date.