'We should be allowed to get home': Stranded family calls for more flights to get them back to Auckland

With all of New Zealand now at COVID-19 alert level 4, official advice is for Aucklanders to return home as soon as possible, with the Government allowing a 48 hour amnesty for those making their way back to the city.

But with airlines' running their standard schedules, seats are in very short supply and some people fear being stranded outside of Auckland for much longer than 48 hours.

There's also the issue of people not turning up for flights they've booked due to the lockdown.  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday afternoon that airlines were frustrated by people simply not turning up to flights without cancelling them, meaning the seats couldn't be given to people who need to travel.

Samantha Cameron was finishing up a ski holiday in Wanaka with her family when news of the lockdown broke on Tuesday.

"We were due to travel to Queenstown tomorrow and fly home on Saturday with my boys. My husband and his sister were due to get the ferry back next week," Cameron told Newshub.

Air New Zealand has increased the size of the aircraft it's flying between Auckland and Queenstown, adding just under 50 additional seats to each flight - but so far Cameron has had no luck.

"The call kept dropping as volumes were high. Then I was in the phone queue for two and a half hours before it was answered," she said.

"Air NZ was very nice but there was no capacity to get us home within 48 hours, the earliest flight is Friday and we have no idea whether we will be allowed to travel on it."

Cameron said she was told there was no availability for the next two days. 

"What happens if we end up stranded for weeks? We should be allowed to get home as soon as possible. Otherwise the Government should ask Air NZ to put on extra flights." 

Cameron says she's been contacted by others who are in similar situations and have seen her post on Air NZ's Facebook page.

"This has been incredibly stressful. We had looked forward to this break after a very stressful six months. We have no idea how to get home or who to ask for help. We also have a puppy back at home and we're desperate to see him," Cameron said. 

Air NZ told Newshub it had added two additional flights out of Queenstown on Thursday, as well as using the larger than usual Airbus A321 aircraft. The additional flights have already sold out.

"We are continuing to monitor demand and add capacity where possible," an airline spokesperson said.