The scramble to get home for lockdown continues for hundreds of New Zealanders stuck throughout the country and away from their homes.

Additional domestic flights and ferry sailings will see many make it home with the deadline for essential travel extended to midnight Friday.

Staff and crew on the Interislander were doing all they could to accommodate customers desperate to get home in the next two days, a spokesperson said.

And Air New Zealand had increased capacity, putting on extra flights and larger planes for increased demand.

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The Air New Zealand domestic terminal was quiet despite the record number of flights. Photo / Juliette Sivertsen
The Air New Zealand domestic terminal was quiet despite the record number of flights. Photo / Juliette Sivertsen

A spokesperson for the Interislander ferry service said staff were "working around the clock" to book tickets.

Aucklanders Ian and Lynette Versley were among the lucky ones who booked early and were able to get from Picton to Wellington on a Bluebridge ferry this morning.

The couple had been on an eight-week tour of the South Island and cut it short by two weeks to get home.

"We had a lot of empathy for those who hadn't booked and had no idea if they were going to get a booking because it was chocka," Ian Versley said.

"Because the campsites are closed, even if they do make it on the ferry they have a long drive home with nowhere to stay on the way."

Ferry sailings continue to the end of the week for passengers trying to get home. Photo / Mark Mitchel
Ferry sailings continue to the end of the week for passengers trying to get home. Photo / Mark Mitchel

Versley said people would be "forced to break the law" and park on the roadside. There were others who lived full-time in their camper vans who were now stuck with campsites closed.

"That was a bit of an oversight by the Government closing the campsites so early," Versley said.

The Government announced on Monday that New Zealanders would be forced into four weeks of self-isolation from 11.59pm on Wednesday in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19.

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The unprecedented measures include limiting all non-essential domestic travel and complete shutdown of all non-essential services like restaurants, bars, cafes, gyms, movie theatres and libraries.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urged Kiwis to "go home", telling citizens if they were in a different part of the country they should make immediate arrangements to return.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

Despite reports of unprecedented demand for domestic flights, travel journalist Juliette Sivertsen posted photos on Twitter showing eerily quiet scenes at Auckland's domestic terminal.

She described boarding a flight before the lockdown as "simultaneously joyful and frightening".

"No one is rushing, there's plenty of space between people and no one is bumping me in the queue," she said.

But she said everyone was suspicious of each other, "eyeballing each passenger above their face masks".

Air New Zealand had increased capacity on domestic services today for New Zealanders trying to return home.

This included a mix of additional services and swapping smaller aircraft for larger ones.

"We have seen customers cancel their bookings if they no longer need to travel but naturally any seats which become available are snapped up," a spokeswoman said.

Those using the terminals were reportedly calm and keeping their distance from one another.

"We would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support and patience as we work through this challenging and difficult time," the spokeswoman said.