Holidaymakers bound for one of the few quarantine-free return air routes open to Kiwis have had their hopes dashed, after bad weather forced a Rarotonga-bound Air New Zealand flight to turn back.
Flight NZ946 from Auckland was unable to land safely in Rarotonga this afternoon because of bad weather, a spokeswoman for the national carrier said.
"The flight has turned around and expected to arrive back in Auckland at 5pm."
A return Air New Zealand flight - NZ945 which had been scheduled to land in Auckland just before 6.30pm - has been cancelled.
Flight NZ946 turned back after three failed attempts at landing, a passenger on board wrote on Facebook, using in-flight Wi-Fi.
"Weather is horrible in Rarotonga and we couldn't land ... well, at the very least we've got another three hours to watch another movie.
"What do you do eh? Take is as it comes I feel."
Coast FM host Lorna Subritzky is in Rarotonga and wrote on Facebook that the edge of a cyclone had hit the island.
"The daily flight in from Auckland valiantly tried to land without success. Lots of Kiwis due to leave are now back at the resort."
The Cook Islands reopened its borders to fully vaccinated New Zealanders aged 12 and over eight days ago. A negative Covid-19 test is also required no more than 48 hours before departure.
The border had been closed since the start of the Delta outbreak in Auckland five months ago.
Those on board today's flight would be transferred to tomorrow's 6.45am flight to Rarotonga, the Air New Zealand spokeswoman said.
"We're very sorry for any inconvenience this caused our customers."