Queenstown Airport has now reopened after an earlier security scare.
The airport said it was advised by the defence force explosive ordnance unit that some suspiscious items were not a threat and it was safe to reopen.
Queenstown Airport chief executive Glen Sowry told Checkpoint airport security had every reason to worry about an x-ray image of an electric ski boot-warming device.
"When you're looking at an x-ray image and that's sitting alongside other dense material, and alongside a computer with printed circuitry and the like, the imagery raised significant concern for the aviation security folk."
Sowry said about 25 flights were disrupted and airlines were putting on extra flights to clear the backlog.
Earlier today, passengers had to be evacuated and incoming aircraft diverted as authorities dealt with the alert.
The airport said it activated its emergency security protocols shortly after 8.30am and emergency services were called.
Queenstown Airport said flights would be delayed and it was arranging food and shelter for passengers who required it.
Air New Zealand said it had cancelled 10 flights as a result of the situation - four inbound and six outbound.
"We apologise to our passengers for the disruption, especially as this has happened at the end of the busy school holidays period. Safety is our number one priority and we are working with the relevant authorities," Air New Zealand said in a statement.
A police cordon was in place and the public could not access airport car parks A and B or the terminal at present.
Updates on flight details were issued by the airlines and by Queenstown Airport through their Facebook page.
While some passengers had gone home or to their accommodation, about 250 people moved to the Queenstown Events Centre, where food, drinks and activities were provided.
One of the passengers caught up in the disruption, Geoff, said he was supposed to be flying to Sydney early Friday afternoon.
"I've checked Qantas there's nothing happening there yet, but I've checked with some friends and they're saying something about a bomb, that's all I know so I presume what they'll do is clear the airport, just depends how long it's going to take for that to happen."
Geoff said he was relaxed about his flight possibly being delayed as he had somewhere to stay, but he felt sorry for those who were trying to leave and had flights to make or nowhere to stay.
Himanshu and Jahnavi were due to fly to Wellington but missed their 10.15am flight due to the disruption.
HImanshu said the airport was already in the process of being evacuated when they arrived there at 9.30am.
His wife, Jahnavi, said they were told they had to park elsewhere when they first arrived and then when they walked back, they could not enter the terminal and people were milling around.
"We were asking everyone 'what's happening', 'how long do we have to wait'."
Adrian Stephen-Feod was at the airport to pick up some cars to take back to Christchurch and said there would be a lot of disrupted people and flights since it was the end of the school holidays.
"We got information on our way down at about 8.45am that the evacuation had taken place, and we arrived here at 10am to find all these people milling around, and this is as far as we've got at the roundabout, we've been turned back so we can't get any further."