Jacinda Ardern has warned that some Kiwis stuck overseas "won't make it back" to New Zealand in time as the country prepares to go under lockdown amid the Covid-19 spread.
"For many, it will just not be possible to return," the Prime Minister said in a press conference today.
"Those links back to New Zealand are reducing the ability to transit through countries to get here, and some cases has dried up entirely.
"We are working to deal with those who are returning in the safest way possible for all New Zealanders, but there will be some who won’t make it back.”
She said that while the Government is working with Air New Zealand to guarantee certain routes, several traditional routes through Asia have ceased, making it "harder, if not impossible in some areas" to return home.
"There were windows of opportunity that we hoped New Zealanders would have used."
Earlier, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement that many of the transit counties used to get to New Zealand, such as Singapore, are no longer available as foreign nationals are being prevented from going through their airports.
"It has become very difficult to return to New Zealand from all around the world," he said.
"We are reaching a point where the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are.
"The feasibility of Government-assisted departure flights is being considered, but there are no guarantees these will be possible in the extremely complex and rapidly changing global situation.
"Those few Kiwis who still have the option to return to New Zealand should continue to work with their airlines to seek flights as a matter of absolute urgency."
Last Thursday, New Zealand's travel advice was raised to its highest level, with Kiwis advised not to travel overseas.
He reiterated that all New Zealanders currently travelling overseas should consider returning home "immediately". On March 18, Mr Peters said there are more than 80,000 people who came under the category of being overseas for a short-period of time.
"Borders are closing, you may not be able to return to New Zealand when you had planned to. You should therefore organise to come home now," he said.
This morning, the Government detailed the $330 million to be used to ensure air freight capacity on key routes is ongoing for the next six months and to deal with "immediate risks and opportunities as they arise in the aviation sector".
Airlines are able to make proposals to Government for funding freight capacity on key routes - which also includes the possibility to propose repatriation of Kiwis overseas who may need transport back into New Zealand.