An Air New Zealand flight from Invercargill to Wellington was struck by lightning moments after takeoff on Thursday morning, forcing the aircraft to return to Invercargill Airport.
Flight NZ8872, a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-300 aircraft, was back on the ground within 30 minutes of the strike and was then checked by ground staff.
While lightning strikes to aircraft are common, Thursday morning's incident was pure chance, with the flight being struck by one of just two lightning strikes in the Southland region this morning.
"Two lightning strikes were recorded this morning over Southland, and both were very close to Invercargill. One was cloud-to-cloud lightning, and the other one reached the ground," a MetService spokesperson told Newshub.
"These are very small numbers, but unfortunately one did manage to strike an aircraft and cause a return back to Invercargill. The risk of any further thunderstorms in the area today is negligible, so the chance of any further delays due to lightning today has passed."
Air NZ also confirmed the incident in a statement.
"Flight NZ8872 from Invercargill to Wellington returned to Invercargill after a lightning strike," an Air NZ spokesperson said.
"The aircraft will now be assessed by engineers in Invercargill. Customers have been reaccommodated on other services.
"Lightning strikes are not uncommon - aircraft are designed with this in mind and our pilots train for this scenario."
The lightning strike follows an incident on Wednesday which resulted in a flight from Hamilton to Wellington turning back due to reports of smoke in the cockpit.
In September, an Air NZ A320 aircraft flying from Invercargill to Auckland was struck by lightning. Most of those on board didn't even notice the strike, and the flight continued to Auckland.