An Auckland man missed his partner's daughter's birthday and was forced to sleep in his car overnight after bad weather severed access to Christchurch Airport from Geraldine.
Auckland resident Dan bought the last sleeping bag from The Warehouse last night and bunked down in his car in Geraldine, unable to reach Christchurch, from where he was due to fly to Auckland this morning. "All of the hotels in the area were full," he says.
"It's a weird feeling to not have internet," he says. "[We're] completely cut off".
He wasn't able to contact anyone—including Jetstar, the airline he was booked on.
He finally got hold of Jetstar at 7.30am, an hour after his flight had left, and told them the situation.
"They said there was nothing they could do and to talk to the people at the airport," Dan says, frustrated the airline is refusing to change his flight. "Pretty disappointing."
He says it's a "sit and wait" situation until the roads are reopened. Dan says he's expecting to have to buy another ticket to fly home.
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A Jetstar spokesperson said the company was "assisting customers who were unable to reach the airport due to the weather with a change to their flights at no additional cost."
Its rebooking policy on its website says:
"We are committed to getting you to your destination on time, however sometimes bad weather, natural disasters, technical problems, operational and other issues can cause flight delays and cancellations," it reads.
Jetstar says it will provide assistance in the event of a delay or cancellation.
Air New Zealand has so far cancelled two return services between Queenstown and Auckland, but is offering rebooking options to affected customers and looking into options for additional services to regions hit by problems.
An Air NZ spokesperson says the cancelled flights are due to a Spark network outage in Queenstown. Queenstown Airport's website says due to the Spark network outage it can't display any flight information data.
In a travel update sent out to some passengers, Air New Zealand said it is also experiencing issues with check-in kiosks at Queenstown Airport and check-ins may need to be processed manually.
"Due to extreme weather conditions in the South Island and the subsequent Spark communications network outage affecting the area, Air New Zealand encourages all passengers booked on affected flights today to call our contact centre on 0800 737 000 for rebooking," an Air New Zealand spokesperson says.
The airline says a large number of passengers are affected and those calling in can expect increased wait times.
One woman who contacted the New Zealand Herald by using the internet at Timaru Airport says more than 50 people are on a waiting list for private flights to Christchurch Airport, in a bid to get home.
The private flights are setting stranded passengers back $500, Vicki Abraham says.
"No phone or internet anywhere so extremely difficult to get updates on the roading situation," she says.
In the latest update, Spark says "almost all" of the affected South Island broadband, mobile and landline services are back up and running. However, the telco company warns services are still vulnerable because they are reliant on a damaged cable which could be affected by changing weather conditions.
Severe thunderstorm warnings remain in place across the country.
* Dan will be home on Monday evening, after managing to nab a Jetstar flight to Wellington, then to Auckland.