16 April 2014


Direct Flight from Te Anau to Chatham Islands
Te Anau Airport at Manapouri was the take-off point for an aviation first on Sunday when 40 people set-off on a direct flight to the Chatham Islands. The charter, which was due to turn last night (April 2) was organised by Te Anau aviation and history enthusiast Merv Halliday who himself created an aviation back in November 1987 when he his wife Jenny and son Grant, flew their family Cessna 180 direct from the Chatham Islands to Invercargill. The flight, which took five hours and 48 minutes, had never been done before, nor has it since. He recently seized upon the opportunity to gauge interest in fully guided tour direct from Te Anau to the first inhabited d in the world to see the new morning sun (time zone 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand) - distance of 1261km. Interest in the trip was overwhelming and he said he could have filled it twice. It had given him hope that such an adventure might be able to become an annual event. The party enjoyed a cooked breakfast at the airport before boarding an Air Chathams Convair 580. To their surprise - including Mr Halliday's - they were joined on the flight by Chatham Island publican Val Croon who was to be their host on the island. The flight took two hours and fifty minutes. Although passports aren't required, many took them with them and availed themselves of the chance to get the post office there to frank their passports with the Chatham Island post date. A full guided itinerary was arranged, including searching for and finding fossilised shark teeth which are about 30 million years old. "To find a tooth from a creature that was eating fish long before the first primate - let alone the first human - walked the earth is amazing," Mr Halliday said. Other highlights were visiting the Kaingaroa Tree Carvings and the amazing Basalt Columns at Owenga, Waitangi West. The early Moriori carved designs, known as dendroglyphs, are estimated to be up to 300 years old but are still visible on the trees. The basalt columns are a series of pentagonal shaped volcanic rock columns on the shoreline, and not found anywhere else on the island. Options of fishing trips and flights to adjacent Pitt Island were also taken advantage of.  Mr Halliday said the flight should be seen as a huge promotional experience for the Te Anau airport. “It illustrates what a huge asset we have in the ability of a fully loaded 40 passenger aircraft and to be able to ulitlise our existing our existing facilities,” he said. “A lot of people don’t reliase we can accommodate aircraft of that size,” he said.

Source : Fiordland Advocate - 3 April 2014

More Chatham trips possible
Last week's inaugural direct flight from Te Anau to the Chatham Islands proved so successful that two more charters are already being planned for the next 12 months. Organiser Mery Halliday said he was so buoyed by support for the excursion, not only from those who couldn't make it this time but also the 40 people on the first trip, many of whom had indicated they were keen to go back. The charter flight, aboard an Air Chathams Convair 580, left on March 30 and returned on April 4. "We were greeted with great enthusiasm upon arrival and told we were the biggest tour party ever to arrive on the island," Mr Halliday said. The island has a population of about 600 people (by comparison, Stewart Island has about 400). It has a scheduled air service every day except Wednesday but sees few tourists or tour parties. The 40 aboard the Te Anau flight were spread among a range of accommodation providers because no one complex could cater for them all. Local publican Val Croon and his sister Toni met the group on their arrival (the Fiordland Advocate incorrectly reported last week that Mr Croon had accompanied the party on the flight) and acted as personal tour guides for the ensuing four days. "They were exceptional people. They really touched our hearts," Mr Halliday said. On the return flight the tour party was treated to sparkling wine in Specially etched souvenir glasses, with the plane making a fly-over of Te Anau before touching down at the airport at Manapouri. As well as providing an opportunity to visit a part of the country that few people got to see, Mr Halliday said the charter had also served t raise awareness of the quality of the airport that Te Anau boasted and its capacity to cater for larger aircraft such as the Convair. Given the strong interest and the unique nature of a direct flight to the Chathams (flight time 2 hours 50 minutes). Mr Halliday said he was working towards another tour around November and one in March. Dates were yet to be confirmed because these would have to fit with Air Chathams schedules. The cost was likely to be around $2000 per person. To register interest contact Mery on (03) 249-8294 or email merv@teanau.co.nz

Source : Fiordland Advocate - 10 April 2014

1 comment:

  1. Can anyone confirm which Convair operated these flights...was likely to have been either ZK-CIE or ZK-CIF...thanks in advance