A New Zealand woman has told how she hid in an airport toilet cubicle fearing for her life during Turkey's failed military coup.

The 26-year-old Auckland mother, who asked not to be named so as not to worry family members, was in the city for a business meeting when a faction of the Turkish army attempted to overthrow the Government in a night of bloodshed and chaos.

The woman told the Herald on Sunday she was waiting to board her flight when check-in staff left their seats, followed a short time later by the pilot and cabin crew.

"There were stampedes and waves of people screaming and running down escalators, trapping and then trampling on women and a few are injured and still in need of stitches."

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Someone said men with guns were coming down the stairs towards them, causing everyone to dive under chairs.

"During the night I can honestly say I was the most terrified I have ever been in life," she said.

Just after midnight she hid in a toilet cubicle with a young mother, two children and two other girls after they heard gunmen were outside.

She heard explosions elsewhere in the city, although they were so loud it felt as though the airport was under attack.

"The airport is a mess. Looters have gone crazy and nothing is left on the shelves - and no sign of when and if flights will resume," she said.

"Passengers are still injured, crying, tired little ones are hungry and grumpy."

The woman was last night hoping to fly out of Istanbul early today.