A Virgin Airlines flight from Rarotonga to Auckland on Thursday night was turned back as a precautionary measure.
The airline said the captain made the decision to return to the island when the fuel indicator light came on, about two hours into the flight.
It said at no point were crew members and the 140 passengers in danger.
Virgin said it had arranged a flight for the stranded passengers to get back to Auckland this evening.
The Edgewater Resort in Rarotonga took in some of the stranded travellers. It said all crew members were given rooms but it didn't have enough beds for all the passengers.
A spokesperson Emile Kairua said the resort contacted other hotel partners on the island but they were also full.
One passenger told Fairfax that 18 of them were then taken back to the airport where they had to spend the night outside.