A flight from Christchurch to Auckland has had to turn around shortly after take off because the aircraft's landing gear failed to retract.

Air New Zealand flight NZ538 from Christchurch to Auckland was scheduled to depart at 12.45pm but returned to Christchurch airport and had safely landed by 1pm today.

Air New Zealand communications manager Hannah Searle was keen to clarify the aircraft did not make an emergency landing.

"While safety was not compromised at any stage, flying with the landing gear down increases drag so the decision was made to return to Christchurch," she said.

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"The aircraft landed without incident and customers have been moved to another aircraft which is scheduled to depart Christchurch at 1.15pm.

"Engineers will inspect the aircraft this afternoon."