A passenger on board the Air New Zealand flight which shut off an engine after a power surge said "huge flames" erupted on the wing.
The woman, who asked not to be named, was on flight NZ118, coming into Auckland Airport from Sydney on Sunday when there was a power surge in one of the four engines.
An Air NZ spokeswoman said it was standard procedure to shut down the malfunctioning engine, which was on the plane's right-hand side.
The aircraft, with 282 people on board, landed as scheduled at 8.45pm without any further problems.
The spokeswoman said none of the plane's staff saw flames coming from the engine. But the passenger, who was in the window-seat overlooking the engine, found it "amazing" the airline said there were no flames coming off the wing.
"Well, believe you me - I was sitting on the side of the plane that had the engine trouble and there were huge flames coming out from under the wing. How you could miss it I don't know," she said.
Some of the woman's friends who were driving along the Manukau motorway at the time told her they could see flames coming out of the engine and thought it was in trouble.
It was only the next day that they realised their friend was on board.
Manukau resident Kevin Ward told 3 News the Boeing 747 was about 400m in the air when there was a loud bang.
"I saw what I thought was an emergency beacon - but then realised it was flames coming out of the outer starboard engine," he said.
The woman on the flight said no one on board was panicked because the captain and flight attendants did not tell passengers that anything had happened.
"We circled around for quite a while, so obviously they were dumping fuel.
"I praise the pilots, of course, for their actions but was a little amused at how you could miss such huge flames coming out."