Queues at testing stations around Auckland are snaking up to 5km with police diverting traffic around some centres.
North Shore nurse Felicity Cooke has been waiting five and a half hours to get tested in Albany and said she was still six cars back from the swabbing station.
"There seems to be two people doing the swabs, which seems woefully short considering how obvious it was that today was going to end up being a very busy day testing wise," she said.
"It's just crazy here."
Cooke said a worker gave her a cookie and the traffic management people were "doing a great job".
"I'm just very surprised at the site, just behind Albany Mall which is a place of interest, not being more prepared for the amount of people that were bound to come in today," she said.
"Being a nurse myself I'm very concerned as to whether the testers have even had a break."
Police are monitoring congestion at the Wiri testing station as the queue of cars runs all the way along Druces Rd, then down Kerrs Rd and then down Hobill Ave.
At the Northcote testing station, the queue was more than 300 cars long and stretched back more than 2km from College Rd to Exmouth Rd then down Lake Rd, back onto Northcote Rd and into Akoranga Drive - almost joining up with another queue for testing at a local medical centre.
Just a few kilometres away at the nearby Wairau Valley testing station, cars snaked around the North Shore Events Centre car park before extending on to Silverfield Rd and out to Porana Rd.
In Devonport the queue was 120 cars long.
In Henderson, the line of cars has basically stopped traffic on Bruce MacLaren Drive, with traffic management vehicles shepherding buses through and leaving other drivers with no option but to turn around.
A new mother said the queue for the Whanāu House testing station on Pioneer St in Henderson was about 2km long, stretching down Railside Ave on to Bruce McLaren Rd, at 8am despite the station not opening until 8.30am.
Since then there have been reports the Henderson queue was up to 5km long.
Two women have been waiting almost 7 hours at the New Lynn testing centre after major traffic management issues caused delays.
One woman, who is an Auckland DHB staffer, described the experience as "terrible" after she - and about 50 other cars lined up at the site - were told they had to drive to a different area to queue.
A traffic management staff member told the Herald the management plan was poor earlier this morning with two lines of traffic heading into the McCrae Way car park building where testing is taking place.
While things appeared to be under control this afternoon, the DHB staffer said many people had been jumping the queue due to the confusion around changing traffic management plans.
"No one really knows what's happening," she said.
Police were turning away traffic trying to get on to St Lukes Rd at the Northwestern Motorway end saying traffic was too backed up because of the testing station at the White Cross just before St Lukes Mall.
The queue on St Lukes Rd stretched about 1.2km from the Whitecross with police also controlling traffic merging in at New North Rd.
Police confirmed they were working with the Auckland Traffic Operations Centre and traffic management plans were being put in place to ease disruption.
"Police are advising the public that there is significant traffic congestion near Covid testing centres across Tamaki Makaurau," a spokesman said.
"Large queues of vehicles at these testing centres is causing traffic disruption for other motorists travelling past these locations."
Motorists travelling near Auckland testing locations were warned to expect delays or avoid the area if possible.
Yesterday, people waited more than eight hours for a test.
George Ngatai, director of Whānau Ora community clinics, which are running the Mt Eden, Wiri, Albany and Northcote sites, said staff tested about 1800 people yesterday and expected a similar number today.
He acknowledged the long waits people were enduring but hoped they would recognise the sacrifices made by his staff.
"Our staff are moving as fast as they can.
"What we want people to do is be a bit more patient and be kind to our staff."
He said there had been no serious issues involving poor behaviour directed at staff.
Ngatai confirmed staff were well-resourced with testing kits and all other material they needed to perform testing.
Ngatai said they continued swabbing at the Balmoral Community Testing Centre in Mt Eden until 11pm last night.
"This was a decision that we asked our staff, whether they wanted to stop at the 8pm close off time [or keep going]."
He said the staff told him that if it was them in the queue, they would expect it to stay open until the very last car.
"One car had been waiting for up to three hours and they were so pleased that we stayed open that late."
The Otara testing station was also struggling to cope with demand and those lined up had been diverted to Wiri while staff temporarily closed the centre to add more lanes and set up extra testing tents.
In line for a test at the Northcote station were Allan Eng and Linda Chea, owners of the Passion Bakery in Birkdale, which is a location of interest.
The couple, with two young children, were at the back of the line when they spoke to the Herald, saying they were worried they had flu-like symptoms.
"I'm very worried about it," Eng said.
Eng said he hadn't been told by the Ministry of Health that his shop was a location of interest. Instead, he learned from a call from his accountant and the news.
After speaking to the Herald, Eng and his family left the queue to find another testing centre that wasn't as busy.
Doug Stewart, 66, turned up at the Northcote testing centre at 7am - 90 minutes before it was scheduled to open.
He had just entered the testing car park at 9.30am and would likely leave in about 90 minutes, based on yesterday's speed at the centre.
The Birkenhead resident had received a Covid alert after he visited his local Countdown, which was a location of interest.
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Stewart was glad he arrived early but didn't think much could be done about the length of the queue.
"I don't know how you could do it any better unless you open more testing centres," he said.
He said the staff at the centre were not to blame for the wait times.
Another reader queued up at the Northcote centre said they had joined the line at 7.30am and believed they were in it for another two hours at least.
They were queuing as flatmates, with snacks and drinks and had already played 10 games of Scum and had started a movie.
Jessica, who was towards the back of the line, had been at the Pumphouse Theatre in Takapuna - another location of interest.
She said the overwhelming demand at testing centres was not good enough.
"I just feel that we are so under-resourced."
Jessica said she had plenty of food and water, as well as a copy of today's Herald to keep her entertained.
The Herald understands traffic management staff are reviewing the Northcote testing centre to see whether any changes need to be made.
It appeared most people arrived at the Northcote centre between 7am and 7.45am - many of whom will be waiting more than three hours to get a test.
Other people spoken to by the Herald had come to the centre as they were linked to a location of interest.
The 55 locations of interest in Auckland alone, many on the North Shore, appeared to be the main contributor to the demand.
More than 120 people were queuing at the Devonport testing centre in Narrow Neck when a Herald reporter visited.
People towards the front of the line at the Devonport testing centre have been waiting about two hours - and the line stretched about 120 cars.
Two people, who spoke to the Herald on condition they were anonymous, said they had been days away from finishing a year-long course at the local navy base and were set to carry out security at MIQ facilities when lockdown started.
They had multiple connections to various locations of interest, including a friend who had links to Auckland City Hospital, which had a staff member test positive.
A new mother in the Henderson queue said she had had flu symptoms since Tuesday and tried to get a test yesterday but ended up going home before being tested because she had a newborn to feed.
In Hamilton, the queue at the Founder's Theatre testing station was about 100 cars long and stretched down Norton Rd to the roundabout and probably beyond.
A woman in the queue there said she had moved about 300m in a couple of hours and was still a long way back from even entering the site.
The two testing lanes were bumper to bumper, she said.