Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has told 80,000 Kiwis travelling overseas to get home now - before it's too late.

"If you're travelling it's very likely you could be shut off very shortly," Peters said today.

"If you can get home, come home now."

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) this morning asked all Kiwis currently overseas to return as soon as possible due to the restriction on the number of flights now operating.

Peters today repeated that call and said the Government believed about 80,000 New Zealanders were in that position.

"We're alerting everyone we can that the transportation options are closing up real fast and they could be stranded there so they need to think about that real hard."

Peters said MFAT was also working with its international staff based as some were in "high risk" areas and have health conditions.

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Asked about the implications of removing diplomatic staff for the Kiwis who would stay overseas, Peters said: "You've got to look at the fact that each one of these foreign affairs staff is a person in their own right - they've got their own health issues in some cases.

"It's wise for us to take a precaution based on what we know all ready about their health rather than to wait around and find out when we could have acted, we didn't.

"So we're being proactive about that already."

The Government was also contingency planning other options to help Kiwis stuck overseas should commercial flights cease, Peters said.


"We're considering every option now."

In its call for travelling Kiwis to come home, MFAT said many air routes would not remain commercially viable for long as countries imposed strict travel restrictions.

"The options for New Zealanders to get home are reducing dramatically

"We are therefore urging New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider returning home as soon as possible.

"Travelling New Zealanders should work with their travel agents and airlines to discuss options for returning home."