Coronavirus: Deadline for domestic travel extended until Friday

The deadline for domestic travel throughout New Zealand has been extended as Kiwis race against time to get home before the cut-off.

Transport services have been inundated with people trying to get home before the original cut-off date of midnight Wednesday for non-essential workers.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it was unlikely the increased demand could be met before then.

Therefore, people needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into lockdown will now be able to use services until midnight on Friday.

"The Government recognises New Zealanders are trying to do the right thing by returning home ahead of the country moving to level 4," he said in a statement.

"There has been further pressure on domestic passenger services from international tourists who are completing self-isolation and declared COVID-free to move to their final destination in New Zealand.

"That's why the Cabinet COVID Committee this afternoon agreed to extend the deadline for non-essential workers and international tourists to keep using domestic passenger services until midnight Friday. After this time, services will only be provided to essential services and workers, including freight services."

Multiple Kiwis had expressed concern that the original Wednesday deadline didn't give them enough time to get home.

"It is 6am and there are over 200 people and vehicles waiting to get on the Bluebridge ferry.  If we can't get on the ferry we will all be stranded in the South Island unable to self-isolate," one family told Newshub on Tuesday.

"We are 900km from home. 48 hours is not enough time to get back home when you are towing a caravan. The campsites are closing too so we will have nowhere to stay here."

Air New Zealand is adding extra domestic flights to help Kiwis to get back home from around the country before the restrictions come into place on Wednesday.