The Coromandel has seen a flood of traffic and shoppers queuing outside supermarkets, prompting criticism from mayor Sandra Goudie on the Government's failure to place road blocks before announcing Auckland's level 3 lockdown.
"This is a Government-led response for another Covid incident and this is what they do," said Goudie.
"They tell people to stay home and don't put roadblocks in until lunchtime the next day. Really? We've got the highest over-65 population in the country."
Goudie, a former National Party MP, called on bach owners on the eve of level 3 lockdown to stay away from their holiday homes but the roads were busy through the night and locals reported an obvious spike in population.
Some towns on such as Tairua and Pauanui have up to 70 per cent of residences owned by holiday homeowners who live outside the district.
"We had the same problem during Covid lockdown last time and I went out and parroted the Prime Minister's call to stay home, most people respected that though there were a few that didn't.
"The ones that didn't acted respectfully and stuck to their own bubble. The problem is if you want them to stay home, you put the roadblocks in."
Police have set up nine checkpoints at exit points just inside the regional boundaries, largely based on the Auckland super city boundaries.
Pak'nSave Thames supermarket had a long queue outside on its usually-quiet Wednesday morning shopping day and duty manager Marcel Vroege estimated 40 per cent were not local.
Abiding by level 2 restrictions, the store had 50-60 staff on duty as usual which accounted for some of the waiting times because it was restricted to allowing 100 people inside and social distancing rules.
"I'd say 40 per cent are Aucklanders coming in, there are lots of new faces I haven't ever seen before. We're trying to get [customers] through as fast possible, there is lots of panic buying even though you tell them not to. Everyone seems to be doing their monthly shop."
New World Whangamata owner Neville Singh said panic buying had occurred but was over quickly.
"We have seen that in the morning they panicked, but I think they were more locals."