Watch: Passengers detail 'terrifying moment' Air New Zealand plane's engine shut down after spouting flames

Passengers onboard the Air New Zealand flight that was forced to make an emergency landing at Hawke's Bay Airport today have spoken about the "terrifying moment" they saw flames spouting out from an engine before it shut down.

NZ5018 from Napier to Auckland landed safely in Napier around 3.50pm after returning due to an engine issue.

Passenger Aaron Hana told 1 NEWS about his experience on the flight that had issues shortly after take-off.

"It was pretty scary, I was dozing at the time and right by my window the engine blew up and there was flames dashing out for like two minutes.

"Then we noticed that the left hand propeller had stopped, so I didn't know what was going to happen.

"We were getting prepared as much as we can and studying the charts in front of us to see where our life jackets were," Mr Hana said.

Another passenger, Rick Mclaren, praised the pilots and crew who stayed "very calm" during the incident.

"Once the pilot levelled the plane he explained it was capable of flying on one engine.

"It was a terrifying moment that no one really plans on," Mr Mclaren said.

A Fire and Emergency spokesperson told 1 NEWS there were 71 people onboard the flight. 

Air New Zealand released a statement after the incident saying there was no engine fire but one of the plane's engines "experienced surging shortly after take-off" similar to that experienced in a back-firing car.

They said the aircraft involved was an ATR72-500 which is designed to operate safely on one engine and pilots are trained for this scenario.

Engineers have since checked the aircraft and confirmed there was no fire, and no visible damage to the engine, according to Air New Zealand.

There were 71 passengers onboard when the engine failed on flight NZ5018 from Napier to Auckland. Source: 1 NEWS