A man who had driven almost 600km to go fishing in the Bay of Islands and a sightseeing couple heading to Cape Reinga are among those turned back at an iwi-led checkpoint south of Kawakawa.
Since Monday all drivers entering the Far North on State Highway 1 have been stopped at the joint iwi/police checkpoint at Waiomio.
And, unlike many other checkpoints around Northland, it is staffed 24 hours a day in case drivers try to breach Covid-19 travel restrictions by sneaking through at night.
The end of the level 4 alert at 11.59pm on Monday slightly eased travel restrictions, but driving between regions is still prohibited to all but essential workers.
Northlanders are also being urged to stick to their local areas.
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Ngāti Hine leader Pita Tipene said the checkpoint would remain at least until tomorrow.
''If we think things are under control we'll ease off, but we are deadly serious about protecting our people,'' he said.
Police were present at all times. Security and road safety firm Kia Tupato was also assisting with traffic management.
With traffic heading further north passing through Ngāti Hine rohe, Tipene said the hapū had ''put its shoulder to the wheel for the greater good''.
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Most drivers spoken to were travelling legitimately, but too many people were flouting the restrictions and coming up with extraordinary excuses.
A New Plymouth man had been driving to the Bay of Islands for ''a bit of fishing'' and others had planned to drive as far as Cape Reinga for sightseeing. A Wellsford resident claimed to be driving to the Far North to feed animals.
Checkpoint volunteer Riki Ngakoti said in a Facebook post that 30 drivers had been turned around on Monday alone, though Tipene believed the number was higher. No one was arrested.
Ngakoti urged Far North residents heading south for legitimate purposes to carry proof of their home address and the reason for their journey, such as a hospital appointment letter.
The checkpoint forms part of the ''Tai Tokerau Border Control'' started by former MP Hone Harawira.
Tipene conceded the checkpoints were controversial but said they sent a clear message about the need to unite against Covid-19 and keep Northlanders safe from people unnecessarily travelling.
Northland MP Matt King has urged police to stop the ''vigilante'' checkpoints and his National Party colleagues have called on police to clarify their legality.