An Air China flight was forced to return to Auckland after the aircraft lost power.

A passenger told the Herald that flight CA784 departed from Auckland on Friday night at 8.20pm.

But it turned around about 90 minutes into the flight after the aircraft lost power and lighting down its left side, he said.

The wing lights went off and all electronics were shut down along half the plane, the man said.

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After landing in Auckland sometime before midnight on Friday, passengers were left to find their own hotels or sleep in the terminal, he said.

The flight eventually departed at 9.30pm last night.

The man said he was annoyed because none of the crew or ground staff spoke English.

He only learned they were turning back to Auckland when another passenger told him what was happening.

Air China station manager Richard Yu told Fairfax the aircraft's left engine had failed, cutting power to the cabin, navigation systems and radar.

He said the autopilot system continued to operate but the outage also affected the communication systems, forcing the plane back to Auckland.

But the trouble did not stop there, according to the passenger.