An Air New Zealand jet bound for Niue from Auckland was forced to turn back after a suspected engineering issue, but not before it circled about a dozen times.
Air New Zealand spokeswoman Emma Field said the decision was made to return flight NZ784 to Auckland where Air New Zealand's technical operations base and full engineering support was available.
The aircraft had to circle above the Bay of Plenty to burn off excess fuel prior to landing, which was standard procedure, Field said.
The plane landed in Auckland about midday and would be inspected by engineers, she said.
The 136 passengers onboard were safe and had been rebooked to travel on an alternate service.