Lightning strikes Rotorua-bound Air New Zealand flight

The plane was forced to turn back to Auckland.
The plane was forced to turn back to Auckland. Photo credit: Noel Jones

A Rotorua-bound Air New Zealand flight was forced to return back to Auckland after being struck with lightning on Sunday morning.

A bad storm has been drenching the Bay of Plenty region in the past 24 hours.

Air New Zealand flight 8121 was on its way to the flood-stricken city when "a bang and a flash" hit the plane.

"It hit the left wing but I couldn't see any damage," passenger Gavin Long told NZME.

"There were two kids flying alone and they were in tears. A couple of passengers looked teary-eyed, but it was so well handled by the Air New Zealand staff."

He said the pilot came out from the cockpit and told people not to worry, as the aircraft was built to withstand lightning strikes.

The plane then had to turn around and go back to Auckland for inspection. When they arrived in Auckland, passengers were informed they were re-booked onto the next flight to Rotorua on Sunday afternoon.

Newshub.