23 October 2011

Air Discovery - Your Schedule, Your Destination, Your Discovery

Air Discovery Ltd was registered as a company by David Irvine on the 10th of March 2005 and took over the operations of Whakatane-based Scott Air and the training and charter operations of the Rotorua Aero Club. This included low-level forestry survey work, high-level aerial photography, air charter, scenic flights and training from both Whakatane and Rotorua. Air Discovery also took over the NZ Herald newspaper air service from Rotorua to Gisborne with Piper Pa34-200T Seneca ZK-FNB. This aircraft had been the mainstay of the service for many years operating the newspaper service for Air Rotorua (the commercial division of the Rotorua Aero Club) and Scott Air. The Air Discovery flights left Rotorua about 4.00am with the return flight leaving Gisborne at 7.10am.

Gisborne-Rotorua timetable, downloaded 27 May 2007

Air Discovery's Piper Seneca ZK-FNB, in the early morning sun at Gisborne on 14 November 2007. 

In early 2007 Tauranga-based Island Air was grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority. Mountain Air operated Island Air’s services on their behalf  for a short time until, in April 2007, Air Discovery took over operating Island Air’s services to Motiti Island. Later that year, on the of 31st of October 2007, the company was sold to Lyndal and Mark Huxford.

On the 20th of June 2008 road transport replaced Air Discovery’s NZ Herald newspaper service between Rotorua and Gisborne. 

By January 2009 Air Discovery were contracted to do all the flight training for Tauranga Aero Club, with the Aero Club not having any instructing staff themselves.

In April 2009 the company started a thrice daily, seven day a week scheduled flight service between Tauranga Airport and Motiti Island for a short time in their own right. The scheduled flight meant the aircraft did not need to be chartered, instead passengers just needed to book a seat. The service operated to the Mailbox airstrip, the main airstrip which was available for public use, as well as the private Hapu or South airstrips. Initially this service was operated by a Cessna 172 but from the 17th of August 2009 the Cessna 206 was also used, while in 2010 a Cessna 207 was also operated.

One of the Tauranga Aero Club aircraft registered to Air Discovery and painted in its colours, Cessna 172 ZK-TAB with   the "Your Schedule, Your Destination, Your Discovery" caption. Photographed at Tauranga on 1 September 2009

The company also operated a four-flights a week service between Tauranga and Great Barrier Island. This service, which operated via Whitianga, departed from Tauranga on Fridays and Sundays at 9:30am and 2:30pm with the return flights leaving Claris at 11:00am and 4:00pm. These flights required a minimum of two adult passengers to operate. The company also offered transfer flights to from Tauranga to Slipper Island.

In mid-2009 the company introduced an unscheduled, on demand, East Cape air service linking Tauranga and Whakatane to Opotiki, Waihau Bay, Ruatoria, Tolaga Bay and Gisborne. Prices began from $199 per person with flights requiring a minimum of two passengers. The company was hopeful of eventually operating a daily service, however, the service failed to generate much traffic and was soon withdrawn. With the focus on Tauranga the bases at Rotorua and Whakatane were closed.

In December 2009 the company established a new base on Waiheke Island and started offering transfer flights from Waiheke Island’s Reeve Airfield to Auckland International Airport, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula initially using their Cessna 206, ZK-WWH, but they also later used FlightHauraki's Cessna 172s. On the 1st of April 2011 the Tauranga operation was also closed with all commercial and air transport operations being relocated to Auckland and Waiheke Island.

Gulf News, 17 December 2009

Cessna 206 ZK-WWH at Auckland on a transfer flight from Waiheke on 9 March 2010.

The move to Waiheke Island did not generate a great level of business and in March 2012 North Shore-based Flight Hauraki Ltd acquired Air Discovery's remaining scenic flight business.

Aircraft registered to Air Discovery over the years included;

Cessna A152              

Cessna 172                 

Cessna 182                 

Cessna U206G           

Cessna 207                 

Piper PA-28-161        

Piper PA-28R Arrow    

Piper PA-34 Seneca     


  1. This is a great airline service - especially the flight service to Motiti Island Hapu air strip.

    Alys Ingrid Wicksteed

    1. Air Discovery no longer operating. Their time on the Hapu strip very short lived. Just like the future of the Hapu Strip. Especially if sunair continue going in there with their Piper Aztec. 480 MTRS in Aztec on ATO'S 'crazy stuff' Campbell live should have had the cameras rolling at the time.

  2. What company did David Irvine use to work at