A group of 50 school children who were left stranded at Wellington Airport overnight have returned to Auckland this morning.

Jetstar originally informed the children they would not be able to get an alternative flight home until Tuesday. But the group from Cornwall Park District School, who were in the capital for an orchestra trip, were placed on an early morning flight today.

The pupils, all aged 10 or under, had viewed the experience as an "exciting adventure", said political commentator Matthew Hooton, whose daughter was one of those stuck at the airport.

"They arrived home this morning," he said. "And they had one giant sleepover, initially at the check-in area of Jetstar and then in the middle of the night they were moved up to a conference room."


He said "amazingly, after a few media inquiries", Jetstar was able to put the school children on an 8.20am flight to Auckland.

"So in the end it all turned out to be an exciting adventure for them. They played for the TV cameras in the terminal, and there we go."

The kids had given an impromptu orchestral performance when television news cameras showed up at the airport.

The children were fine today, he said, but had learned "an important lesson" - "the importance of selling more cupcakes in order to fly Air New Zealand".

Pupils from the school had fundraised for the trip by baking and selling cupcakes and other treats.

Last night, Hooton tweeted that Jetstar had cancelled the trip home for "engineering" reasons.

"There are no hotel rooms in Wellington because of @acdc - not that @Jetstar-NZ has offered them as far as I know," he posted in a series of tweets.

"@Jetstar-NZ says they may be able to fly the kids home on TUESDAY. Their school graduation is on Monday morning."

The budget airline then said it might be able to put the kids on a Sunday night flight, and provided the group with Subway vouchers, Hooton said.

Last night Jetstar spokesman Luke Enright said the flight was cancelled because of an engineering problem.