Police say had collected 542 now-banned firearms and 578 parts by the afternoon, after opening the doors at the Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch on Saturday for the first event of the nationwide hand-in scheme.
The government, with support from opposition parties, immediately rushed through legislation to tighten New Zealand's gun laws.
He said that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had responded in much the same way as John Howard, who was Australia's prime minister at the time, after the Port Arthur mass shooting.
With armed police monitoring the handover, 169 firearms owners handed in 224 weapons and 217 parts and accessories.
Police are using hydraulic machines to crush the gun barrels and firing mechanisms of the weapons that are handed in, rendering them inoperable, before disposing of them.
The event on Saturday is the first of 258 planned across the country until the end of the year.
"Police recognize that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them", Johnson said.
The buyback event will continue on Sunday at the same venue.
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A high security presence was seen at the event as gun owners, accompanied by their families, handed over their semi-automatic weapons.
Nicole McKee is a spokesperson for New Zealand's Council of Licensed Firearms Owners.
More than 900 gun owners in the Canterbury region had registered to hand over 1,415 firearms, he added.
A person can "do a lot of damage to a lot of people. if you're mentally unwell and you have a weapon that can shoot 100 rounds a minute".
The buyback scheme gives owners 70 percent of the base price for new or used guns, and 25 percent of the base price for guns with poor condition.
Gun reforms were authorized after a shooter (a gunman) shot dead 51 individuals at two mosques in March, according to BBC news reports.
The Australian man accused of the Christchurch shootings has denied 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and a terrorism charge.
After the amnesty expires, possession of a prohibited firearm will be punishable by up to five years in jail.