09 October 2016

SPANZ - Gore’s First Air Service

South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, SPANZ, began scheduled services of the 14th of December 1960 initially connecting Auckland, Hamilton, Matamata, New Plymouth, Napier, Masterton, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch, Oamaru and Alexandra.

In the years following Rotorua, Whakatane, Taupo, Gisborne, Timaru, Dunedin and Invercargill were added as destinations while Matamata, Whakatane, Taupo, Gisborne and Dunedin were dropped from the network. 

On the 21st of December 1962 Gore was added as a destination on SPANZ’s thrice weekly service from Invercargill to Christchurch. Passengers travelling north from Gore to Christchurch had three stopovers at Alexandra, Oamaru and Timaru. By this stage SPANZ had three Douglas DC-3 Viewmasters, ZK-BYD, Ernest Rutherford (c/n 13906), ZK-BYE (c/n 13529), Jean Batten and ZK-CAW (c/n 18923), George Bolt.

Gore appears on the timetable for the first time - the Airlines of New Zealand timetable effective 21 December 1962

The beginning of 1964 saw a change of name and branding. The “A of NZ” markings on the tail gave way to the SPANZ roundel.

SPANZ timetable effective 18 December 1964

Douglas DC-3C, ZK-BYD, at Gore on 30 December 1965.

From the 22nd of March 1965, after much lobbying, SPANZ was granted a contract for the carriage of air mail. First day covers were issued to mark the event. The original contract was to other provincial destinations on the SPANZ network and mail was not carried to any of the main centres. That changed on the 4th of May 1965 when mail was carried to and from Christchurch for the first time.

Despite receiving good passenger approval and loyal support from the smaller centres SPANZ always struggled. By late 1965 the writing was on the wall and the end loomed. In December 1965 it was announced that there would be no Government assistance for SPANZ. Subsequently, Captain Rex Daniell, the airline’s general manager, was reported as saying “South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand is now dead” and the receiver announced that SPANZ’s services would end on the 28th of February 1966. Representations were made for Government support though while Oamaru was to receive an NAC service and Alexandra a Mount Cook Airlines service no comparable replacement service was offered for Gore. 

On the 28th of February 1966 Captain Rex Daniell captained the last northbound flight through Gore to Christchurch in the aptly registered ZK-BYE while Captain Graham Gribble captained the final flight from Christchurch to Gore and onward to Invercargill in ZK-CAW.

Douglas DC-3C, ZK-BYE, at Gore on 31 December 1965. I love the collection of cars in the photo above. Also in the photo above you can see Mooney ZK-CKF which was to run the replacement air service

While SPANZ did lose its DC-3 service it did gain a new air service. On the 1st of March 1966 the Southern Districts Aero Club introduced an air service from Gore to Dunedin’s Momona Airport using their Mooney ZK-CKF. See : http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.co.nz/2016/06/gores-airline-southern-district-aero.html 

The final timetable up to the cessation of services on 28 February 1966

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