06 March 2011

Golden Coast Airlines' Greymouth Operation

For details on Golden Coast Airlines see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-hamilton-to-greymouth-golden-coast.html

On the 3rd of July 1963 Golden Coast Airways’ managing director Bill Evans announced in the Greymouth Evening Star the introduction of a six day a week air service between Greymouth and Nelson using a £20,000 twin-engined Piper Apache. The company proposed establishing a radio base for the operation that was to begin the following week on the 11th of July. Bill Evans noted that a businessman would be able to “leave Greymouth at 7.45am, connect with the 10am Friendship service out of Nelson and be in Wellington at 10.40am. He could have a few hours business in Wellington and return by Friendship to Nelson connecting with the Golden Coast service, which will leave for Greymouth at 3.15pm, arriving here at approximately 5.00pm.”

The inaugural flight to Nelson was flown by Bill Evans in Piper Apache ZK-BYB on the 11th of July 1963 and carried a Civil Aviation Administration operations officer, Mr T Gloacki, and a Nelson accountant, Mr A Perry.

Greymouth Evening Star 11 July 1963

There was no change to the service when Golden Coast Airways Ltd was sold to Aircraft Hire Ltd of Masterton and rebranded as Golden Coast Airlines Ltd. At the time company directors told the Greymouth Evening Star that "in view of the population and demand for better aircraft services from Greymouth, the object of the new company is to put only twin-engined aircraft on the route. As the demand increases, the company intends to grow with it in the supply of more advanced twin-engined aircraft."

Greymouth Evening Star 5 November 1963

Greymouth Evening Star 1 February 1964

However, the twin-engined aircraft were not without problems. One of the company’s two Apache’s, ZK-BYB, hit a fence taking off from the Westport aerodrome on the 7th of May 1965.and it was badly damaged. The pilot, the only occupant, was unhurt. The aircraft was later sold.

The more advanced twin-engined aircraft promised in 1965 arrived a few day before Christmas 1966 with the arrival of Aero Commander 500A ZK-CTM (c/n 1274). While the aircraft was soon operating north from Nelson to New Plymouth Hamilton there were problems with the West Coast flights. The Civil Aviation Division advised Golden Coast Airlines that under “no circumstances” should it use the Greymouth aerodrome for its new Aero Commander aircraft. While the Greymouth aerodrome was brought up to the required standard the Apache was used for the Coast service. This upgrading involved the provision of two sealed strips at each end of the grass runway, the theory being the plane would touch down on one sealed strip, roll across the grassed area, and would brake on the second sealed section of runway if necessary. With the strips completed Greymouth was finally cleared for the Aero Commander on the 27th of June 1967.

The Aero Commander operated its first flight into Greymouth on the 30th of June 1967. In discussions with Greymouth Mayor, Dr Barry Dallas, Golden Coast said they envisaged a vastly extended air service to the West Coast the company with a new and bigger aircraft than the Aero Commander, with multiple daily flights in and out of Greymouth. While the Aero Commander was popular with passengers the service did not prosper and the company faced increasing financial difficulties.

Pictured at the left is the informal welcome given Mr Sigley just after the Aero Commander touched down on Friday after its, inaugural flight. From left, Mr Dunn, the pilot, Mr Sigley, Mr Beyk, and Dr Dallas. - (Inkster photo.).
Greymouth Evening Star,

Greymouth Evening Star, 3 November 1967

This came to a head when on the 18th of September the Greymouth Evening Star announced that “Golden Coast Airlines is to suspend all flights to the West Coast at the end of next week.” The last flight, however, actually operated the day before on the 17th of September 1970.


  1. My wife and I were on a flight from Nelson to Greymouth which flew over Farewell Spit due to low cloud and discovered a missing yachtie on the beach just north of the Heaphy River.Landed at Karamea to notify police.The jetboat sent to pick him up flipped and the poor sod was drowned.Think it was 1966.

  2. I remember as a kid when the aero commander first flew into greymouth they did joyides for $1..