The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was in Christchurch, where 51 Muslim worshippers were gunned down while at prayer less than four months ago.
More than 160 New Zealand gun owners have traded their weapons for cash, as part of a government buyback scheme enacted after the Christchurch massacre.
Around 169 individuals handed in 224 prohibited firearms in the city of Christchurch, Reuters reported. Police say they paid more than 200,000 New Zealand dollars ($134,000) to 68 gun owners in the first couple of hours of the Saturday event.
But Nicole McKee from the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said the compensation package was not fair and reasonable.
Delivering an emotional speech to parliament in April, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I can not imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now".
'They have really engaged in the process here today and we have had positive feedback, ' Mr Johnson added.
The new laws ban the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.
Licenced firearms owners have six months to surrender weapons that have now been deemed illegal under the scheme, with an amnesty ensuring they will not face prosecution during that period.
After the amnesty expires, possession of prohibited firearms is punishable by up to five years in jail.
The government has set aside NZ$208 million ($139.15 million) for the scheme.
"We needed these semi-automatic assault rifles out of the community, but it's appropriate that people who have had to hand them in are compensated for it", he said. He told reporters he had been in the Canadian army and on the Canada shooting team but believed there was no place for military-style firearms in modern society.
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".
Australian-born Brenton Tarrant has been charged with the Christchurch mosque killings and is alleged to have used an arsenal of five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles, in the attacks on two mosques.