The line at the Orchard Rd Covid-19 testing centre in Christchurch stretched nearly 2km as the city prepared for at least three days in lockdown.
The Government announced New Zealand would enter alert level 4 at 11.59pm on Tuesday after a man in Devonport tested positive.
Chris Jones said he had been waiting in line for about two and a half hours and expected top wait about another 40 minutes until he would get a test.
He works for the Christchurch Airport company and had been in Auckland last week.
"I was meant to be at work today but cause I've been in Auckland, I can't go back 'til I've had a clear test."
Craig Bishop said he wasn't prepared for the line to be as long as it was.
"I've been in the line for two hours at least. I'm getting a test for work, I work for Action Security Service," he said.
Bishop said he felt very safe in Christchurch compared to the North Island.
Meanwhile, the shelves were bare at Countdown Christchurch Airport on Thursday.
It appears there has been an influx in customers after the Government's announcement last night, and the toilet rolls and bread shelves are almost completely empty.
A shopper told the Herald of their experience at a supermarket in Rolleston.
"I was at New World doing my weekly shop when it was announced. Five minutes later people were sprinting - genuinely sprinting - to the toilet paper section," said a resident of Rolleston just south of Christchurch.
"Moronic. Loo paper is made locally, so it won't run out. It didn't last time and that was way worse," he said.
"I just casually did my shop while the place packed out. Was truly amazing."