16 July 2012


Queenstown Airport sees a $1.7 million initiative by Hokitika Airport Ltd as direct competition, Queenstown Airport chief executive Scott Paterson says. In a bid to attract direct flights from Australia, Hokitika Airport plans to extend its runway to 1856m to allow bigger aircraft to use the airport. The Westland District Council-owned airport has called for design and costing options to allow for air traffic growth, which it proposed to link with Queenstown and Wanaka, bypassing Christchurch. Hokitika Airport chairman Bruce Smith told the Hokitika Guardian the first step would be charter flights, followed by scheduled services. Having transtasman flights land in Hokitika, instead of crossing the Southern Alps to Christchurch, would cut fuel costs and save time, he said.   Work on the runway was expected to begin by the end of the year and take up to two years to complete. Mr Paterson said this week the Hokitika plan made sense, provided passengers from Australia wanted to arrive in the West Coast town rather than in Christchurch. Mr Smith said Hokitika Airport was looking to become a "strategic part" of Queenstown Airport's operations. Hokitika Airport planned to promote areas in its region to visitors before they drove south to the ski resorts, he said. "We see our future firmly entrenched with Queenstown and Wanaka," Mr Smith told the Hokitika Guardian. Mr Paterson said Hokitika Airport Ltd had not discussed the initiative with the Queenstown Airport Corporation. "What he's describing would be direct competition to Queenstown. We would prefer to see the planes come here direct. "What he's got to convince his board and his investors is they can make a return on their increased asset, the longer runway." Securing international flights involved more than a runway extension, Mr Paterson said. Customer services, border control, aviation security and agricultural inspection were among the facilities needed, plus the space to accommodate them, he said. "From an airport point of view, our preference is to see them fly direct [to Queenstown]. We don't get any money if they drive down so, if that's the model Hokitika is proposing, then it is competitive to ours."


  1. Little old Hokitika getting an international airport. Seems weird. Oh well, dreams are free, I cant see it coming to much

  2. Completely unjustified and would be a major white elephant the region can ill afford. I hope someone sends a clear message to the floaters of this hair brain idea that it will not work, firstly as a result of what airline is ever going to contemplate running jets there. If cosmopolitan areas like Tauranga, Napier, Palmerston North and Invercargill can't make it happen with existing airport infrastructure then I don't see the West Coast making much head way sadly.

  3. Have to laugh at the 1st comment. Imagine saying 30 years ago, little old Queenstown getting...
    Having spent some time working in the tourism industry in Hokitika, and spending time living in a number of South Island Towns and cities, Hokitika is in a prime place for an airport. With a Golden triangle, Hokitka creates the third point in a Tourism golden triangle, with Christchurch and Queenstown the other two points.
    Personally I know Richard Branson’s jet has landed twice at the Hokitka Airport. Perhaps he has just made the small mistake twice. Yeah right.
    Some might forget that the West Coast got $100 million when logging was remove, in order to create jobs on the coast. There still might be some of that money left? On the top of cheap land, Sea, forest and mountain views. Mahinapua Tree top walk underway, some might say it is prime for investment.