North islanders have been moving around more during alert level 4 than last during year's lockdown, traffic data shows.
Data provided by Waka Kotahi shows Auckland and Wellington traffic volumes to be higher on every weekday of alert level 4 than the average weekday during the last nationwide lockdown - in March and April 2020.
However, the Christchurch figures, based off data taken at Main Nth Rd - Styx - south of Radcliffe Rd Inc, showed traffic volumes to be lighter on every day except Tuesday, the last day of level 4.
In Auckland traffic volumes since the beginning of alert level 4 were between 20 and 57 per cent higher than the average weekday of last year's lockdown.
On August 18, the first day of alert level 4, traffic was up 57 per cent from last year's average. On Wednesday, the first day of alert level 3 restrictions south of Auckland, traffic was 50 per cent more than a 2020 level 4 weekday.
The data, collected at SH20 Hillsborough Rd on ramp to Dominion Rd off-ramp, also showed a 7.1 per cent increase in light traffic, and a 14.6 per cent jump in heavy traffic on Wednesday when compared with the previous week.
Waka Kotahi pointed towards increased freight and testing and vaccination activity as being reasons for this increase.
Similar findings were recorded in Wellington at the Waka Kotahi traffic monitoring site on SH1 at Ngauranga Gorge, the gateway to the city.
Waka Kotahi regional maintenance and operations manager Mark Owen said there had been higher volumes of traffic over every weekday in alert level 4 when compared to a weekday average in the March- April 2020 lockdown.
"The total number of vehicles crossing our traffic monitoring site on SH1 at Ngauranga Gorge on Wednesday 1 September was 3 per cent higher than the average daily weekday count for this site under alert level 3 in April/May 2020," he said.
Waka Kotahi also reported an additional 14,423 cars on the first day of alert level 3 on Wednesday, compared with traffic volumes on the previous day.
Along with the rest of the country south of Auckland the capital moved to alert level 3 restrictions at 11.59 on Tuesday night.
Within two-and-a-half hours yesterday police stopped 646 cars at a checkpoint on the Wellington side of Remutaka Hill.
Fishing, surfing and "scrubbing in new tyres" are among the excuses given to police for motorists being out and about under alert level 3 restrictions.
Wellington police have since set up checkpoints around the capital to stop and question motorists on their reasons for travelling.
While most were travelling for an essential reason or with the required paperwork, Wellington Road Policing manager Inspector Wade Jennings said there were 17 vehicles turned around.
However, there were no infringements issued for traffic offending or breaching Covid-19 health orders, police said.
Jennings said there had been a number of excuses that didn't stack up.
Someone told police they were driving to "scrub in their new tyres on the hill", while another said they had just found out they were pregnant and were off to buy a changing table.
"A number of drivers were off to go surfing – including one who'd come over from Titahi Bay heading to Castlepoint," Jennings said.
"There were also people driving to go fishing and those who were just bored."
Under alert level 3, travel was still heavily restricted allowing for essential purposes only – such as going to work or school, or shopping or exercising in your local area.
Police said checkpoints would continue over the next few days, with another on SH1 outside Plimmerton.
Throughout the two weeks of alert level 4 restrictions, police received more than 1500 online breach notifications, issued nearly 300 infringements and 6 people were charged.
Of the 1550 notifications received, 1000 were about a gathering, 393 were about a business and 157 were about a person.
In addition to the six prosecutions, 41 formal warnings were given. Of these, 35 were for Health Act breaches, seven for a failure to comply with direction and five for failing to comply with a Covid-19 order.
Wellington police had issued 299 infringements during the alert level 4 period. 281 of these were for failing to remain at home and 14 were for leaving home other than for essential movement.
Three were for failing to maintain physical distancing and one was for a breach under the new health order.