New Zealand Customs has been praised by travellers after their heartwarming act during Friday's two-minute silence to pay respects to those killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Travellers were entering and leaving New Zealand international airports around the country when suddenly hundreds of Customs staff appeared at 1.32pm, the time of the two-minute silence.

One traveller revealed on Reddit he was rushing through the airport when suddenly Customs staff closed the borders for two minutes, bringing the airport to a halt.

Customs officers formed a human barrier to close off borders at Auckland International Airport during the two minutes' silence last Friday. Photo / supplied
Customs officers formed a human barrier to close off borders at Auckland International Airport during the two minutes' silence last Friday. Photo / supplied

"I was departing Auckland Airport International. Security is at its max, I guess it's increased security due to current events," one passenger wrote.

Advertisement

"I was about 20th in line to get to Smartgate when we were instructed to stop and the straps were pulled across to stop is going any further.

"I would guess that there were about 500 people behind me, it was busy. All of a sudden over 40 customs officers appeared in the passenger area. They were all in their full uniform and stood in front of each booth and Smartgate machine.

"They formed a solid row across the border. A prayer played over the speakers and each officer stood solemnly looking at the floor. A human barrier. We had two minutes of silence.

"My frustration disappeared and I was in fact in awe of what was happening. New Zealand was closing its border for two minutes for time to reflect.

"People around me closed their eyes and reflected. All these people who were not New Zealanders were part of something amazing and not one single complaint. The two minutes passed and we were allowed to proceed.

"Thank you Customs for doing this, you really made me think and reflect about what it means to be a Kiwi. What an experience in an area that I didn't think would be disrupted. It made me so proud."

Customs Group Manager Border Operations Terry Brown confirmed to the Herald that operational and non-operational staff in all locations across New Zealand were encouraged to stop working and join the two minutes' observance to remember the victims of the attack.

Brown said Customs made an effort to alert passengers to the two minute' silence and explained how proud he was of travellers and Customs officers for their part.

Advertisement

"At Auckland Airport, Customs officers spanned across the departures area, which was full of passengers and in the middle of a peak processing time, as well as in the arrivals area, where only a few passengers were present at the time. Our officers had made an effort to explain to passengers what was happening beforehand, and they were very understanding and respectful.

"At Christchurch Airport, Customs officers congregated in the staff café as there were no international arrivals at the time, and officers in the departures area stood behind their booths in silence. Wellington Airport also held a large service that our officers were able to attend.

"Customs is very proud of the comradeship and support displayed by both our officers and travellers."

The crowds that had gathered in Hagley Park, Christchurch, this morning for the March For Love make their way to the floral tribute in central Christchurch. Photo / Alan Gibson
The crowds that had gathered in Hagley Park, Christchurch, this morning for the March For Love make their way to the floral tribute in central Christchurch. Photo / Alan Gibson

Following the temporary unofficial closing of the borders, travellers and Kiwis were quick to praise Customs for their efforts.

Locals and travellers took to social media saying it was a special day for New Zealanders and those at the airport were a part of something unique.

"In so many ways, New Zealand has shown the world the absolute best way to conduct yourself after such a tragedy," one traveller said.

"From the Prime Minister to every child, the response has been mature, inclusive, learning, direct, studied and sensitive."

One pilot also revealed their aircraft observed the two-minute silence.

"I was flying a domestic sector and there was two minutes silence on the radio.

"Not one transmission which is pretty rare at that time of day. The cabin crew ceased the service and the IFE was switched off. Was nice to be a part of it."