30 May 2010

NZ's Southern Most Airline: Part 4 - Stewart Island Flights

This is the final part of a four part series on New Zealand's southern most airline. The first part was on Stewart Island Air Services (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/04/nzs-southern-most-airline-pt-1-stewart.html) and the second and third parts were on Southern Air (http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-2.html; http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2010/05/nzs-southern-most-airline-part-3.html).

South East Air was established by Raymond Hector and Bill Moffatt in 1993 using Cessna 185E ZK-JEM for beach operations to Stewart Island's west coast beaches, Codfish Island for the Department of Conservation and general New Zealand wide charter flights. South East Air Ltd bought Southern Air 1997 Ltd in April 2000, which now operates as Stewart Island Flights.

South East Air Ltd's Cessna 185, ZK-JEM on beach work. Photos : Raymond Hector Collection

South East Air started an IFR post run from Invercargill to Dunedin and return on the 4th June 1996 using a Piper PA32 Cherokee 6 ZK-DBC. This aircraft was used for nine months until it was replaced by ZK-RTS which the company bought and flew in from Australia in January 1996. The last NZ Post flight by South East Air, from Invercargill to Dunedin and return, was flown by George Cuthill in ZK-RTS on the 9th October 2009. After that NZ Post vans took over the mail delivery. Until that time South East Air was only one of two New Zealand operators who operated at night in a single engine piston aircraft, the other being Air Napier on their Napier-Wairoa-Gisborne courier service.

Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6, ZK-RTS, normally used for the NZ Post service to Dunedin is also seen here on beach work. Photos : Raymond Hector Collection

Stewart Island Flights continue to operate two Britten Norman Islanders, ZK-FWZ and ZK-FXE, one Cessna 185, ZK-JEM and two Piper Cherokee 6's, ZK-DIV and ZK-RTS to maintain the daily three return scheduled flights to and from Stewart Island's township and the west coast beaches. The company also continues to be available for air ambulance work to Stewart Island. South East Air Ltd is the parent company and holder of the Air Operator Certificate, under which Stewart Island Flights and Invercargill Aircraft Maintenance are operated.

Above, my one and only photo of one of Stewart Island Flights' aircraft... BN Islander ZK-FWZ on a very wet Invercargill day, 26 July 2006. Photo : S Lowe. Below, a far better day as BN Islander ZK-FXE overflies Stewart Island. Photo : Raymond Hector Collection
Stewart Island Flights continues and retains the total commitment to provide a friendly, efficient air service to Stewart Island that was first seen in Stewart Island Air Services operation and carried on by Southern Air. For 32 years these companies have been always been there for the Stewart Island community as well as providing easy tourist access to one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations. Long may the service continue.

Islander on the beach. Photo : Raymond Hector Collection

A big thanks to Raymond Hector for his help on this post and for the great photos from his collection.

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