Air New Zealand flight struck by lightning off coast of Auckland

A plane is struck by lightning
Lightning striking a KLM plane in 2018. Photo credit: Supplied

An Air New Zealand plane has been forced to make an emergency landing after being struck by lightning.

The flight had been en route to Pape'ete, Tahiti, but made a quick U-turn off the east coast of Auckland after the incident.

The airline released a statement saying: "Flight NZ42 from Auckland to Pape'ete returned to Auckland this evening after encountering lightning."

Flight chart
The flight path of NZ42. Photo credit:

One passenger on the flight tweeted saying the experience was surreal: "Loud bang and flash then eerily awkward and quiet."

Air New Zealand said this kind of incident is not particularly unique.

"Lightning strikes are not uncommon. Aircraft are designed with this in mind and our pilots train for this scenario."

The airline said the plane safely returned to Auckland Airport and will undergo testing by its engineers before being cleared for further flights.