22 June 2014

Who said that Rotorua airport was one of the most boring plane spotters' airport in NZ?

Who said that Rotorua airport was one of the most boring plane spotters' airport in NZ? This was the subject line of a number of emails I received from Fraser Weir last month when I was really suffering from a dose of shingles...

Fraser tells me he was born and raised in Rotorua an avid plane enthusiast from a very young age growing up during the 90s an exciting time in Rotorua airports history. Rotorua airport just had its 50th be cool if you could give some info or a write up on what was a gem in provincial airports BOP and NZ wide esp in the 90s, when it use to have three 737-200 daily along with one sometimes two Ansett BAe146 daily and many a Mount Cook HS748 Ansett Dash-8 to the rough times of the early 2000s when the retirement of the 737-200 and the collapse of Ansett/QantasNZ BAE146 and the battle of the runway extension led to a dry period of no jets then a little bump when Rotorua  completed its extension and welcomed a return to jet service with Air NZ and Qantas Jetconnect 737-300's then another crash to where it is now with no jet service barring a seasonal A320 Sydney service.

I have a blast from the past photos here.... dating from late 90s to the early 2000's these are all but the entire selection of airline's and aircraft types that have flown into Rotorua in the 90's and the 2000's.

Here are a selection of Fraser's pictures...

Where it all began... My first ever plane flight. Rotorua to Nelson on Ansett's Dash 8 ZK-NEY. 
By  the time Fraser started taking photos Ansett had repainted their tails with the Australian stars
Light damaged film. Had to put this photo in. City of Rotorua. Ansett NZ Bae-146... One of the advantages of digital... no light damaged film. 
The change from Ansett to Qantas New Zealand
Above, Qantas NZ Bombardier Q300 ZK-NER and below BAe 156-300 ZK-NZM with a BAe Jetstream on the runway

Also providing services for Ansett were Air National with Embraer Bandeirante ZK-ECM above and BAe Jetstream ZK-ECN below

And following Qantas New Zealand was Qantas - Boeing 737-300 ZK-JNO
On the Eagle front Fraser has seen the transition from the Embraer Bandeirantes... 

Through the Metroliners... 

...to the Beech 1900.
Fraser has witnessed Air Nelson move from the Saab 340s

....to the Bombardier Q300...
Too young to have photographed Mount Cook's 748s he did capture the 200 series ATR-72s...
...then the 500 series
and now the 600 series.
In the same way Rotorua has seen the advent of the domestic jet fleet... the Boeing 737-200 series 

and the larger Boeing 737-300 series

and Fraser writes this is possibly the last Boeing 737 to Rotorua
And more recently the arrival of the Airbus 320 on international services

Origin Pacific also operated services into Rotorua... 
and the Sulphur City has also seen visits by Air Chathams' Convair 580s on charter flights.

So, who said that Rotorua airport was one of the most boring plane spotters' airport in NZ? Well Fraser, you've proved it is not so... however, I would say its not the most friendly airport for the plane spotter's camera though you obviously found some interesting vantage points. 

Many thanks for sharing your photo history of the 50 year old Rotorua Airport!


  1. Now they are a blast from the past. Awesome photos !! I really do miss Ansett in NZ. Great looking aircraft.

  2. Thank you so very much for that haha and very well worded too!! Yip it has been a lot harder now that the old balcony got closed of due to 9/11 and that the old aero club got bulldozed to make way for the new tarmac for the a320's i'll have to send that photo I have of the once busy private aviation scene. But for good photos now you will have to go to the other side airport at hannahs bay lake side.

  3. Hey anyone know when that Dash 8 ZK-NEY got painted? From memory I flew on that plane to Nelson in late 94..? Heard somewhere that it was the paint job that may have been a cause to the crash

  4. Qantas/Jetconnect also flew a 737-400 into Rotorua on the final day of domestic ops... ZK-JTQ I think. My first ever flight was also from Rotorua in 1986 on an Eagle Air flight to HLZ.

  5. Not sure about when NEY got painted, but it was certainly not the cause of the crash.

  6. Cheers for that, just read on wiki that painting over something of the plane didn't help?