A woman scaled two fences, including one 1.82m high, to escape from a managed isolation facility in Auckland last night.
The 43-year-old woman, who has tested negative for Covid-19, has been recaptured and now faces a six month jail term or a $4000 fine if she is charged under the Government's Covid legislation.
She absconded from the Pullman Hotel on foot shortly before 6.20pm and was located a couple of blocks away on Anzac Ave at 8pm.
Cabinet Minister Megan Woods, who has ministerial oversight of the quarantine and managed isolation facilities, said the woman had been in a common outside area that was fenced off.
"My understanding is there was some temporary low fencing indicating a closed space with a permanent fence about 1.82m (six feet) high behind that," Woods told the Herald.
There had been no failure of Government procedures, she said.
"We are not setting up patrolled perimeters here ... This was a hotel. This is a clearly marked area where it's a given you shouldn't be leaving.
"We're not putting up unclimbable walls at these hotels. We're asking those rejoining the team of five million to follow the rules."
She said people in the facilities should play their part.
"We didn't all have a policeman or a member of the NZ Defence Force outside our front doors during the five weeks we made our sacrifices."
She said the fact that the woman was captured within two hours of leaving showed that the proper processes were in place.
"She didn't simply wander out the door ... It is not easy to leave these facilities. Walls have to be climbed."
The woman remains in police custody while it is determined how she will be managed.
The five police officers who came into contact with the woman while capturing her will now be tested for Covid-19 and will also have to self-isolate.
Charges are being considered.
The Government's head of managed isolation, Air Commodore Darryn Webb, praised the "excellent work by police staff who located the woman as quickly as possible".
"She was located outdoors. The exact movements of the woman are still being determined."
Webb said the woman was receiving appropriate care while in custody and would be assessed by a clinician.
"The woman, who was travelling on her own, arrived in New Zealand from Brisbane, Australia, on 27 June," Webb said in a statement.
"She had a Covid-19 test on 30 June which returned a negative result.
"We recognise that managed isolation can be stressful for people who come to it with a variety of circumstances. However, wilfully leaving our facilities cannot and will not be tolerated, and the appropriate action will be taken."
Every person who arrives in New Zealand is placed in quarantine or managed isolation for a minimum period of 14 days, with testing on day three and on day 12.
They must test negative for Covid-19 before they can go into the community.