An Air New Zealand flight to Wellington had to return to Auckland last night after it was struck by lightning.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Marie Hosking confirmed the incident to the Fairfax Media and said the plane was being checked today at the Auckland engineering base.

Passenger Chris Patridge said the plane was struck just after taking off at 8pm, with a "loud crack" as the lightning struck the aircraft.

The incident comes after an Air Force Boeing 757 was struck by lightning after taking off from Whenuapai Airbase on Friday and needed to return to base.