Some families have spent up to 10 hours stuck in traffic caused by delays at Auckland's level-3 Covid-19 checkpoints.
One woman, who didn't want to be named, said she'd been in traffic south of Auckland for six hours on Sunday - and the overall trip was nearing nine hours.
She left Rotorua at 1pm and still hadn't reached the Auckland southern border checkpoint by 10pm. "I have not gone above 5km, I have crawled."
She said people were getting out of their cars and running to a nearby gas station to get food and then making it back to the car before it had moved far.
People were also dashing from their cars into bushes to go to the bathroom.
"It seems crazy it's taken us so long to get back in. I don't blame the police at all. I just hope they could do something slightly different."
She said she had food and water but wasn't drinking it out of fear she might need to go to the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Auckland resident Olivia Savidan had been driving back from Raglan and said she'd covered about 7km in five hours.
She was returning from a "mums and daughters" trip away with seven mothers and nine daughters,and the usual two-hour drive had taken the group more than seven hours.
"We're joking about how lucky and fortunate we are we don't have a crying baby or a pet," Savidan said. "The girls are staying entertained. Everyone is going to the toilet on the side of road, it's not exactly graceful.
"We can't believe there is a border control like thing coming back into [Auckland], we'd expect it going out. This is just crazy."
But not even the lengthy traffic delays could wipe the smiles off the daughters' faces after their weekend away, with the young girls all in good moods after hours stuck in traffic.
"One of our girls did burpees on the side of the road."
Another mum in the group, Nerolie Curran, was upbeat about the traffic delays. "We're just playing our small part for New Zealand to keep us as open as we can."
She said she'd wait in the queue again "any day".
"The only reason we could go away with a group of friends is because New Zealand has done so well to get this far. This is just part of making sure we can do more weekends away."
Other motorists also reported lengthy delays heading back into the city, with one woman saying she'd been in the car for almost 10 hours as she drove back to Auckland from Taupō.
By late afternoon, police had set up a dedicated "livestock lane" to help expedite the travel of vehicles transporting animals.
Those who have stock or animals and were stuck in traffic were urged to call *555.
"Police are actively trying to ease the congestion as quickly as possible. To report non-emergency traffic matters please call *555."
The police checkpoints have been up and running within minutes of the new alert level activation announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Saturday night after news of a new community case.
Not only have there been delays but motorists have spoken of inconsistencies by police in their handling of the checkpoints, with some whistling through, while others being threatened with not being able to go home.
A Pōkeno woman told the Herald the situation was "frigging ridiculous".
"Been in the traffic from Hampton Downs trying to get home to Pōkeno ... four hours later and not even to Meremere village yet.
"What a joke! We are heading into Auckland not out! How are the elderly and terminally ill supposed to cope with this? We have seen people toileting on the side of the road, heard a poor baby crying. What the hell!"
The woman and her terminally ill husband reached Meremere village 45 minutes later - at 5.45pm - but still have to reach Mercer.
"They say be patient. Like to see Jacinda sitting in a car in this heat with a terminal husband whose medication is now well overdue and in pain!"
Police on Sunday urged motorists to be patient and to be prepared for "significant delays".
"Police ask motorists waiting at checkpoints in and out of the Auckland region to remain patient.
"Traffic has increased steadily throughout the day, and there are significant delays.
"Those who are stopped will be asked about their reason for travel, and to provide proof of an exemption.
"Police would like to thank motorists for their co-operation."
A further police update is expected at 6pm.
Motorist Sam Arthur left Hamilton at midday on Sunday and at 4.45pm was still trapped in traffic, about 1km from the Meremere turn-off.
Another Auckland man was also stuck in traffic heading north.
He came to a stop at Hampton Downs at 12.15pm and was still there at 3.45pm. "It's a f****** mess," he said, describing it as "stop-start".
He had seen police escort several vehicles travelling with animals, no doubt worried about their welfare.
An Auckland woman, Tayla, was heading north with friends after Hamilton's Six60 concert and had witnessed worried owners of animals exercising them along the roadside.
"There has been a bunch of cattle and stock trucks stuck in this hectic queue ... I wouldn't be surprised if some have unfortunately died in this heat.
"Horse owners are having to calm, cool their horses by walking them up and down the motorway. Horses are totally distressed and are without food and water."
She said they also watched people go up to a stock truck and give the trapped sheep water out of their water bottles, as the truck driver also tried to help them.
It had been heartbreaking to hear them and horses stomping in distress in their horse floats hour after hour of delays.
Tayla said they eventually got through after a near four-hour wait and brief questioning from police, asking where in Auckland they were going, and then to be ushered straight through.
NZME reporter Luke Kirkness described his experience heading back to Tauranga as "bloody horrible".
"It took me two hours and two minutes to get through it."
Even more frustrating was being allowed to drive straight through after being asked by the officer where he was going and why.
It surprised him as he watched a motorist in front of him have to provide proof, only for him to be given the all-clear.
One Hamilton woman was shocked at being asked to provide proof that she lived in the Waikato while heading home after a weekend in Waiheke.
She said the officer threatened not to let her through as all she had for proof was a driver's licence. She asked the female cop to scan their vehicle registration to prove residence but her device was flat.
She and her husband were eventually let through.
However, her experience seemed to differ from one Northland man.
The man, who didn't want to be named, said he couldn't believe he was able to leave Auckland so easily, after an estimated 12-second conversation with an officer.
"I'm at a tipping point of frustration," the man, who admitted to not being a fan of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
"It just seems ridiculous. I'm cruising back up north and have been through two of these roadblocks now and the first one they wanted a lot of proof and today they asked me, 'where are you going?' and I said 'I'm going home', which is true, and he just waved me on."
The man questioned the officer to see if he wanted to prove that he did live in Northland but the officer said that he believed him.
"I was like 'what's the point in this if you're just going to take people's word?'."
A concerned parent has also contacted the Herald stating her daughter had been stuck in the Mercer checkpoint for nearly three hours.
"My daughter has been stuck for three hours in the traffic coming to Auckland, after a trip to Taupō. She has gone 2km in two and a half hours.
"She has no food or water, and her phone is about to die. She reckons she'll be home at midnight if things don't start to move more quickly.
"It's level 3, not level 4 ... what on Earth are the police doing?"
One cunning Aucklander has opted to avoid the congestion altogether and taken an alternative route to get home from Hamilton.
The motorist, heading home from Taupō, took the turn-off at Huntly through to Pukekawa.
There he had a "90-second wait" to get through the police checkpoint before continuing on his way.