The first 10-year passports are rolling off the printing presses as Kiwis rush to snap up the extended travel essential.

From today, people can apply for the extended passports and, as Sunday ticked into the working week, 230 people were on the passports website at 12.15am.

That signals the beginning of a pre-Christmas rush where 60,000 Kiwis are expected to apply, up from the usual 40,000 for the period.

The move from five-year passports was always going to be popular and one of the first to receive his 10-year document was Christchurch man Peter Town.


It was presented to him by Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne at a ceremony in Wellington today, at the Department of Internal Affairs.

"I was planning on going to Sydney tomorrow but I've decided I'll do that training course remotely instead," Mr Town said.

It's likely he'll use the passport sometime next year when he takes a holiday.

"It's definitely a bonus," Mr Town said of the longer-lasting passports.

He's an employee of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and has worked with the department's passport processing team for 21 years.

That team's in for a busy few weeks, but has reduced the number of applications on its books from the usual 20,000 to 1500, ahead of the rush.

"We had staff in here until about 3 o'clock this morning," the department's identity and passport services general manager David Philp said.

The only difference with the passports is one line -- the expiry date.


Mr Philp advised people to apply for them online and to wait until early next year if possible, as new documents will then feature beefed-up security measures.

Mr Dunne said the new passports had a "more practical lifespan".

"This decision was in response to public calls for a longer passport life and my government colleagues listened to those wishes."

A child's passport will remain valid for five years because of their changing appearance.

The 10-year passports cost $180, up from $138.

New Zealand moved to five-year passports in 2005 in response to security concerns sparked by the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.