Cars are being locked out of Auckland's parks and beaches to stop people leaving their neighbourhoods to have a break from the lockdown.

In a statement issued to the Herald tonight, the council said it has closed and locked vehicle access gates at all parks and beaches that have them. For places without gates or any practical way of restricting vehicle entry, we're relying on Aucklanders to use common sense and heed the Government's advice, it said.

"In line with the Government's direction for people to stay at home, only drive for essential services and exercise close to home," said the statement, issued on behalf of the community facilities team.

The statement did not say when the lockdown came into effect.


Earlier in the day council's regional parks manager Rachel Kelleher said access gates have been closed and locked at council's 27 regional parks since the start of the lockdown, although access remains open for people who live nearby to go for a walk.

She said the public should follow the Government's direction to stay at home and only drive for essential services and only exercise within walking distance from their home.

Auckland's regional parks are normally a magnet for beachgoers who typically travel by car. Popular beach spots include Long Bay, Shakespear, Wenderholm, Mahurangi and Tawharanui.

Scenes of crowds at the beach and people in the water swimming and surfing have led Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to remind people about staying local and not doing activities that could involve the emergency services.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush today admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough.

At the Epidemic Response Committee, Opposition leader Simon Bridges said people did not know how far they could go and asked Bush if he could drive from his home in Tauranga to Mt Maunganui beach about 17km away.

"Sorry to say, no," replied Bush.

Kelleher said information about access and council facility closures have been installed on gates, toilets, playgrounds and boat ramps at parks across the region.

Councils around the country have closed off playgrounds to stop the virus being spread on shared hard surfaces like swings and slides.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said touching surfaces that other people have touched creates a risk, saying Covid-19 can survive on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours.