An Air New Zealand plane was making an "ominous" creaking sound before the pilot shut one of its two engines down in midair.

The flight from Blenheim to Wellington landed safely this evening despite having just one functioning engine.

Air NZ flight 8736 left Blenheim at 6.25pm and was due at Wellington at 6.55pm.

Passenger Charlotte Burkhart said there was a "loud creaky noise" from the right engine just after the plane took off.

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"It was very ominous - and someone next to me joked 'Engine one down'."

During the flight she noticed the right propellor was moving slowly but thought it was an optical illusion.

Halfway through the 20-minute flight the pilot said there was an engine malfunction.

"We are lucky it was a short flight," Burkhart said. "The pilots did an amazing job and you could barely tell there was anything wrong.

"They were very nice and afterwards they gave us some fudge - I wish I had said thank you to the captain but I was just relieved to get off the plane."

A pilot decided to shut down the engine as a precautionary measure because of an engineering issue, an Air New Zealand spokeswoman said.

"This is in line with standard operating procedure and Q300 aircraft are designed and tested to land on one engine and our pilots train for this scenario."

No emergency was declared.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson was on board the flight. He said halfway through the flight the pilot announced over the intercom there had been a malfunction and the flight would continue with one engine.

"Where I was sitting, about midway in the body of the plane, I was able to look out one window and see a propellor whizzing around as normal - but on the right side the propeller was turning very slowly indeed."

He said although the view of the propeller was "disconcerting" there was no noticeable change in the flight.

He praised the professionalism of the crew.

"It was a good result. I don't think there was any sense of ill ease amongst passenger - probably more curiousness than anything else. But it was nice to be on the ground."