It's been a frustrating Christmas Eve for air passengers delayed by heavy fog in Wellington.
All flights in and out of the capital were cancelled yesterday afternoon, and those still desperate to get home for Christmas are warned that the dreaded fog is likely to return tonight.
Staff at Wellington Airport were run off their feet clearing a backlog this morning of passengers desperate to get to their destination for Christmas.
Passenger Jeanette Gillespie was one of those stuck in the capital.
“It's taken from 5 o'clock yesterday morning, right through to now, so almost 36 hours,” she says, “you could go to London couldn't you?”
“It got all too much, and I started crying, and she started crying – then we got on the first flight.”
There were also queues in Auckland. Andy Sherborne was trying to get back to Wellington, but was also stopped by the fog.
“[I] flew to Wellington, couldn't land, came back,” he says.
And it was full at Christchurch Airport, where some passengers had come back for three days in a row hoping for a standby flight.
In Wellington, strong sun saw the fog lift early this morning and flights resume, but airlines still have to clear a backlog of around 2000 passengers. So Jetstar's put on an extra six domestic flights, while Air New Zealand's put on an extra two.
Despite the extra capacity there are still those who can't fly, or see their families, until late on Christmas Day – among them is Christine McElroy.
“We had to tell them last night we weren't coming,” she says.
“We were supposed to be there for Christmas. You know, family and all that sort of stuff, and now we are going to be a little bit late.”
And there could be further delays. MetService chief forecaster Peter Kreft says the fog likely to return tonight
“It's mostly likely to do it after 6 o'clock tonight once the air around the city has cooled off,” he says. “We expect to be stuck with it until some time tomorrow morning.”
“You can't control the weather and I guess it's a test of patience and fortitude.”
Two virtues which may well be tested again tomorrow.