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Daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand's latest outbreak continue to grow, with 68 new infections reported on day nine of a national lockdown.
But there are hopes the new crop of infections could be the peak of the Delta outbreak.
The daily number has edged higher from Wednesday's 62 cases.
"The modelling suggests we're now at that period where we'll start to see the peak number of cases," director general of public health Caroline McElnay said.
"We would expect that to flatten off and start to go down."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said case numbers would peak after eight to 10 days of lockdown.
However, on Thursday - NZ's ninth day of a harsh nationwide lockdown - she suggested days of greater case numbers could yet emerge.
"We are seeing the effects of the lockdown ... but I don't feel ready to make a judgment yet on where we are on the cycle," she said.
"As grim as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if we continue to see high numbers."
Citing "impressive compliance" with lockdown restrictions, Ms Ardern did say she wasn't expecting big leaps in case numbers.
The outbreak has grown to 277 cases - 263 in Auckland and 14 in Wellington.
While 15 require hospital-level care, none are in intensive care.
On Friday, the government will meet to decide on the future of the nationwide lockdown.
Auckland's lockdown has already been mandated until Tuesday, with predictions it will need to run for much longer.
COVID-19 modelling expert Shaun Hendy told Radio NZ the sheer number of cases in NZ's biggest city meant it would need to spend at least a month in lockdown.
"Aucklanders are used to it now. We do have to ride it out," Mr Hendy said.
Ms Ardern's cabinet will decide on settings for the rest of NZ on Friday.
Opposition Leader Judith Collins said it was "remarkably harsh" to lock down the South Island while there were no community cases.
Ms Ardern has said she also wants negative tests from around the country before easing restrictions, as that provides proof COVID-19 isn't spreading undetected in the community.
The government will make the decision at 3pm on Friday.
The outbreak has driven Kiwis to get vaccinated en masse.
On Thursday, the country notched a new record for daily vaccinations, with 87,972 doses administered.
"That means 73 per cent of New Zealanders aged 30 plus have either booked or had at least one vaccination," Ms Ardern said.
From Wednesday, all Kiwis over 30 are eligible in the rollout.
NZ's rollout is one of the slowest in the developed world, slipping behind Australia for doses delivered per capita.