Police step in as 'tense' confrontation over face masks breaks out at Wellington Airport

A passenger onboard a domestic flight is concerned a group of what he called anti-vaccine protestors were allowed to board his flight, despite apparently breaching the current COVID-19 rules for domestic travel.

Police and the airport have confirmed the confrontation took place between passengers.

Daniel Nielsen said the group was protesting at the departure gate in Wellington Airport before the flight to Christchurch on Friday morning.

"A group of about 20 unmasked anti-vaxxers on my flight from Wellington to Christchurch. They've been shouting at people in the departure lounge. Most passengers are super uncomfortable. Police at departure, saying there's nothing they can do," he tweeted.

Nielsen told Newshub the group continued to intimidate other passengers despite requests from fellow passengers for them to stop.

"A couple of women confronted them in the departure lounge, they were shouted down," he said.

In a statement, police confirmed its staff at Wellington Airport responded to a verbal confrontation between passengers waiting to depart this morning.

"The incident occurred after some passengers became concerned others were not wearing masks and were intending to fly," a spokesperson said.

"Police spoke with those involved and determined the 10 unmasked people all had exemptions not to wear masks."

Nielsen said a group of nuns and priests were also unmasked, but they were not involved in the incident.

Wellington Airport has confirmed there was "an incident" in the boarding lounge which was handled by police.

Nielsen said he spoke to police at the airport who told him they "couldn't do anything".

"The situation in the departure lounge was tense and really uncomfortable for everyone," he said.

However, fortunately there were no issues once passengers had boarded the plane Nielsen said, although he wondered how the group could travel unmasked.

A spokesperson for the Aviation Security Service says they are also investigating the incident.