A Belgian man is thankful his family chose February instead of March to fly out of Brussels Airport to visit him in Napier.

Joost Persoon said the bombing of the airport was a shock and his friends and family living there had been left "flabbergasted".

After moving to Napier 10 years ago, the 32-year-old was relieved his friends and family had not been caught up in the chaos.

"We're quite lucky, most of my family lives in Ghent, about 40 minutes drive from Brussels," he said.


Mr Persoon said he had been expecting an attack, Brussels being the capital of the European Union.

"We thought something would happen at some stage - it's pretty bad."

He said he was planning a trip back home in two years' time, but his family had visited him just last month.

They might have been at the airport, Mr Persoon said, if they had planned their trip later.

He said the attacks are such a shame.

"It's always a minority that have got a bad heart."

But living in Hawke's Bay, the Belgian said he never felt worried or unsafe, and this region would never be targeted.

"You can't base your life on that, just carry on and hope that nothing happens.

"I feel sorry for the families involved, hopefully they will find a way to stop it."

New Zealanders living and travelling in Belgium are being urged to get in touch with family to reassure them they are safe in the wake of the bomb blasts.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said there were 72 New Zealanders registered on SafeTravel as being in Belgium.

A message had been sent to all those registered encouraging them to get in touch with family in New Zealand to confirm their well-being and provide contact numbers if they needed consular assistance.

There had been a steady stream of positive responses received overnight, he said.

New Zealand raised the travel alert for Belgium overnight, warning there was a high risk to security because of the threat of terrorism.

Kiwis were warned against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Belgium.

The spokesman said there was no indication that any New Zealanders had been caught up in the attacks.

However, the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels continued to keep in close contact with the Belgian Crisis Centre regarding the status of affected foreign citizens.

The spokesman said if anyone had concerns about a New Zealand citizen family member in Belgium they were encouraged to try to make direct contact in the first instance.

If there were ongoing concerns they were asked to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 04 439 8000 (if calling from within New Zealand) or +64 4 439 8000 (if calling from outside New Zealand).

Any New Zealanders in Belgium not registered with www.safetravel.govt.nz were strongly urged to register.

- Additional reporting, NZME