29 June 2011

Glenorchy Air

Updated January 2017

Glenorchy Air Services & Tourist Company Limited was established as a family business by Janet and Robert Rutherford on the 29th of September 1992. Named after the historic township of Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu the company began operations from Glenorchy with Cessna 185C Skywagon, ZK- CHK (c/n 185-0755). Trading as Glenorchy Air the company later expanded operations to Queenstown and began operating regular on demand tourist flights to Milford Sound. As the business grew a second aircraft was needed and Piper Pa32- 300 Cherokee Six, ZK-DOJ (c/n 32S-40638), was purchased in 1996.

The first aircraft in the fleet was Cessna 185 ZK-CHK seen here at Milford Sound on 14 September 1997
In 1999 Glenorchy Air was used extensively to transport members of the cast, crew and equipment for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy around the southern half of the South Island of New Zealand. This included flying producer Barrie Osbourne on reconnaissance trips to Paradise, Poolburn and Ben Ohau.

Glenorchy Air's Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6 ZK-DOJ at Milford Sound on 10 January 2014.
The Cessna 185, ZK-CHK, was sold in 2003 and was replaced by a Gippsland Aeronautics GA8 Airvan ZK-LOR (c/n GA8-03-034). The Airvan was so registered ZK-LOR to reflect the company’s involvement during the making of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the fact the company continue to provide air tours to some of the locations used in the filming of Lord of the Rings.

Given the company's connection to the Lord of the Rings as reflected in the Gippsland Airvan's registration, ZK-LOR, one wonders whether the company name should be rewritten as GlenORChy Air. The Airvan on a trip to the Glaciers, seen here at Franz Josef on 26th of November 2007.
The company website says Glenorchy Air provides scenic flights from Queenstown and Glenorchy to many destinations around the South Island including Milford Sound, Mount Cook, the Glaciers, the penguin and albatross colonies of Otago's east coast and to New Line Cinemas, Lord of the Rings movies location sites in the southern part of the south Island of New Zealand.

During the 2010/11 summer season the website also showed a Queenstown and Wanaka shuttle air service being offered on demand. In 2013 the company offered a scenic airlink to Treble Cone skifield meaning skiers and snowboarders could be on the mountain in only 20 minutes from Queenstown Airport.

A second Airvan, ZK-JRR, was added to the fleet in 2013.

The second Airvan, ZK-JRR at Milford Sound on 10 January 2014

On the 5th of Augsut 2014 the Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-DOJ was involved in accident near Poolburn killing the pilot and injuring two American tourists. The aircraft was written off and was replaced in 2015 by a third Airvan ZK-ZEA.

Over the years the company has operated a number of aircraft. The current fleet is indicated in bold;

Cessna 172:
ZK-CSU (1999-2000)
ZK-DHV (2003-2006)
ZK-DMH (2002-2003)
ZK-DNS (2010-2014)
ZK-EOI (1998-1999)
ZK-ERK (2003-2005)
ZK-FIG (2004-2010)
ZK-MDR (2010-2013)
ZK-RNX (2014-current)
ZK-VCT (2001-2003)

Cessna 172 ZK-DNS carries small "Operated by Glenorchy Air" titles. Photo taken at Milford on 10 January 2014
Cessna 177 Cardinal:
ZK-DDK (1999-2004)
ZK-SPA (1999)

Cessna 185 Skywagon:
ZK-CGH (1994-1995)
ZK-CHK (1993-2003)

Cessna 206 Stationair:
ZK-JCS (2004-2005)
ZK-MIF (2012-2013)

Gippsland Airvan:
ZK-JRR (2013-current)
ZK-LOR (2003-current)
ZK-ZEA (2015-current)

Piper Pa32 Cherokee 6:
ZK-DOJ (1996-2014)
ZK-MAN (2003)
ZK-WGO (1997-2001)

Being operated into Milford Sound on the 14th of September 1997 was untitled Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-WGO


  1. also c172 zk-fig in 2004 and again 2007 till 2010

  2. Thanks for that... had it on my list and somehow omitted it.

  3. Also ZK-MIF short term 2012-2013, and ZK-JRR as of a few months ago (newest addition)

  4. DNS (C172) left the company last year and was replaced with ZK-RNX. Also new addition of ZK-ZEA as of this year

  5. Thanks...
    Would be nice to get a photo of ZEA sometime

  6. I will email you a photo

  7. New Airvan has just been purchased for 2017/18 summer season and will be on the books shortly. currently ZK-FSS (formerly flystark) but will be Changed to ZK-ORC