Passengers and crew have been evacuated from a plane at Auckland Airport after smoke was smelled inside the cabin.

An airport spokeswoman the Air NZ plane was due to depart for Napier this afternoon.

However, the departure was halted and Fire and Emergency NZ were called after reports of smoke being smelled on the plane.

Passengers were then evacuated and returned to the domestic terminal.

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The plane has since been returned to a hangar for further investigation.

An Air NZ spokeswoman said the smoke was detected after boarding was completed but prior to departure.

Fire crews surround the Air NZ plane which began filling with smoke just prior to departure for Napier about midday on Sunday. Photo / Torin Wilson
Fire crews surround the Air NZ plane which began filling with smoke just prior to departure for Napier about midday on Sunday. Photo / Torin Wilson

Passengers were then asked to disembark flight NZ5011, Auckland to Napier, and would now be "rebooked on other services".

Northern fire communications shift manager Daniel Nicholson said firefighters were called to the airport just after midday.

Nicholson said the plane was full and everyone had to be evacuated. He was unsure how big the plane was.

Firefighters are waiting for an engineer to carry out an investigation.

A fire safety officer was also investigating the cause.