An Air New Zealand flight bound for Sydney was forced to return to Christchurch this evening after circling the city for two hours.

Flight NZ883 returned to Christchurch after an indication in the flight deck there was a problem with the air conditioning system.

Air NZ says as a standard procedure, the aircraft - which took off just after 4 - circled to burn off some fuel before landing around 6.15pm.

The aircraft has since been inspected by engineers and the flight was cleared for take-off off just after 7pm.