Australian travellers have been warned by the Department of Foreign Affairs to use common sense and listen to local authorities if currently located in or travelling to Christchurch following the deadly shooting on Friday.
New Zealand’s threat level has been raised from low to high.
While Australia’s travel advice for New Zealand had not changed at the time of publishing, the Department of Foreign Affairs website SmartTraveller issued a statement on Friday afternoon urging travellers to continue to listen to the news to stay updated.
The statement read: “We are aware of a serious and evolving security situation occurring in Christchurch. If you are in the area follow the advice of local authorities. The level of our advice has not changed – ‘Exercise normal safety precautions’ in New Zealand.”
Travellers have also been warned to keep updated by listening to local media and have been asked to continue to watch out for suspicious behaviour.
The entire city of Christchurch has gone into lockdown including Christchurch Hospital following Friday’s deadly events. An earlier lockdown on schools has now been lifted however police are urging residents to remain indoors and have also told all mosques throughout the city to close their doors until further notice.
At about 1.40pm (local time), a gunman entered the Al Noor Mosque in central Christchurch and opened fire reportedly killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. The gunman live streamed the attack in a confronting video posted to social media.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was quick to address the situation telling media: “Clearly, what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence … They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence, which it is clear this act was.”
She also warned locals to remain indoors as they were “potentially still dealing with an evolving situation”.
Ardern added: “The advice from police continues to be that people remain indoors. I acknowledge that that may mean that some families are separated, but please continue to listen out for information as it comes to light that’s been directly provided by the New Zealand Police with further information. But as I say, please remain in lockdown.”
After the harrowing experience, Ardern described the incident as one of the “darkest days” in New Zealand’s history.