A Jetstar flight that has left some 120 passengers stranded in Dunedin for nearly a day has departed after being delayed twice.

Weary passengers who are enduring a lengthy delay debacle said they were told their flight to Auckland would not go ahead at 1pm as planned, and instead a crew issue has meant they have to wait until 1.30pm to take off at the earliest.

Jetstar spokesman Phil Boeyen confirmed that flight JQ284 departed at its rescheduled time for Auckland at 1.30pm.

It comes as tired travellers were forced to wait hours after midnight to leave the airport while the flight crew left in minutes.

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Scores of passengers were stranded after mechanical problems hit three flights out of the southern city yesterday.

Air New Zealand and Jetstar were forced to cancel domestic flights unexpectedly after inbound and outbound aircraft experienced serious mechanical glitches.

But a Jetstar flight to Auckland turned into a fiasco after passengers were strung along for seven hours hopeful their flight would get off the ground.

The 4.30pm flight yesterday was initially delayed while an engineer was flown to Dunedin Airport before it was cancelled late last night.

Passengers on board beleaguered flight JQ284 were left on the tarmac until midnight, not knowing whether the plane would take off.

"We are all still stranded on plane. Phones going flat. They can't fix it. Have not come up with any solutions. Updates are vague and rare," passenger Mark Ross emailed the Herald in desperation at 11.45pm.

The passengers were eventually taken off the plane and those who lived outside Dunedin were put up in accommodation in the city.

This morning Ross revealed passengers were forced to wait for hours to get taxis from the terminal into hotels, a journey of about 30 kilometres.

He finally got to bed at 2.15am.

Ross was critical at the lack of leadership shown by those in charge, saying the flight crew were on the first available taxis out of the terminal.

"Captain and crew got the first taxi van. The rest [of us] were made to wait for hours.

"There was very little leadership displayed and we still don't know what is going on."

About 30 of the plane's 140 passengers bought tickets on an Air New Zealand flight when the troubles were first announced. He rued his decision not to take up that option.

"I should have booked another flight and got out of there," Ross said.

The Dunedin to Auckland flight left more than 20 hours after it was originally scheduled to.

The rescheduled time of 1pm was pushed back a further half hour after passengers were told there had not been enough stand-down time allocated for the pilot.

A Jetstar spokesman said engineers would be working on the issue this morning with the flight rescheduled to depart early this afternoon.

The spokesman apologised to passengers for the delay.

Air New Zealand also cancelled two flights, one inbound and one outbound, because an ATR aircraft was stuck in Christchurch with "engineering issues".

The Dunedin to Christchurch leg had been scheduled for just after 8pm, and 36 passengers were offered road transport to Christchurch, an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said.

"Customers booked to travel on this service have been offered alternative options.

"Customers have been offered road transport tonight or travel on an alternative service tomorrow," an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said in an email.