People needing to take domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the Covid-19 lockdown will now be able to do so until midnight Friday.

Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have been inundated with Kiwis trying to get home before the original cut-off date of midnight Wednesday for non-essential workers.

As well, transport options had to reduce the number of people they could take on services to accommodate alert level 3 physical distancing.

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Transport Minister Phil Twyford said it was unlikely the increased demand could be met before 11.59pm Wednesday when the lockdown begins.

"The Government recognises New Zealanders are trying to do the right thing by returning home ahead of the country moving to level 4."

There was also further pressure on domestic travel options from international tourists who were completing their self-isolation were moving to their final destination in New Zealand.

In light of this, the Cabinet Covid-19 Committee agreed to extend the deadline for domestic travel until midnight Friday.

After that time, services would only be provided to essential services and workers, including freight services, Twyford said.

"International travellers will only be allowed to use domestic passenger services to reach their final destination to comply with lock-down requirements.

"These airplanes, trains, and ferries are expected to implement physical distancing and other protective measures that are appropriate for their services.

Twyford thanked passengers for their patients as the Government "urgently worked through this unintended consequence of the battle to fight COVID-19", he said.

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