27 March 2021

On Demand Only


Air Kaikoura's twice weekly air service between Kaikoura and Wellington has dropped to an "on demand only" service.

Air Kaikoura started the service on the 15th of May 2020 with Austen Lee flying the first service in Gippsland Airvan, ZK-EHS. Air Kaikoura had started the service to help boost the district's economy in the light of Covid's impact on the town's tourist economy.

Air Kaikoura manager Murray Hamilton told 3rd Level NZ the on demand service is operating "probably every third week or so and usually in the Cessna 172. Kaikoura is a pretty small pool to pull from."  

Air Kaikoura is a real supporter of its local community. This is the second time it was wanted to connect the Marlborough town to the rest of New Zealand. After the Kaikoura earthquake it ran an air service to Parikawa. Meanwhile, Air Kaikoura continues to operate its training and whale spotting flights.  

25 March 2021

The 3rd Jetstream IS ZK-ECJ

In the air today, for the first time in a few years, was BAe Jetstream 32 ZK-ECJ, flying from Paraparaumu, where it has been in storage, to Palmerston North. It looks like it will get a makeover in Palmerston North for service with Originair.


22 March 2021

Another BN Islander


Thanks to Lawrence Ackett who has added to my list of BN Islanders that have operated on regular services in New Zealand.

Lawrence wrote, 

I have, in my logbook photo, album ZK-KHB and know I would have flown in that either to/from AKL-GBI with GBA. Unfortunately way back then I didn't record dates times etc so don't recall the actual time but do recall logging it as another Islander I had flown in. It would have been part of my travels working for Post office- Telecom possibly late 80s early 90s. Do you have any data if GBA leased this machine. I don't see it in the latest listing. My photo shows it in ex Cook Islands Air??? colours with Parakai written on it and photo taken at Parakai.

I was able to reply thar on 29/04/1993, after its service with Cook Island Air, ZK-KHB was registered to Air Ventures Ltd, Helensville, Auckland. On 15/11/1993 its NZ registration was cancelled.

On the West Auckland Airport sight it looks as if KHB was used for skydiving!

This enabled Lawrence to find look in his records in a more focussed way... He wrote, I have since found I have a record of the flight. 27 July 1993 Claris to Mangere via Okiwi on a Great Barrier Airlines ticket. Was a same day return trip for work and flew over in the morning in ZK-CUV.

Attached a photo of the photo at Parakai. It may have been a last minute call by GBA if an aircraft went u/s or on maintenance perhaps.

Anyway guess that adds to the Islander kaleidoscope of airliners?

It sure does! Thanks Lawrence

I wonder if there are any ex Great Barrier Airlines staff that might have some more information as to how much it was used.

Sad News from Mountain Air


Mountain Air have just put this post on their Facebook page...

It is with regret that we have to advise that Mountain Air, is permanently closing down. Our last day of operations will be March 29th, 2021.

We wish to thank so many of you for the support we have received going back as far as 1988 when Keith and Robyn McKenzie started the business. Since purchasing it in 2007, we have seen the pre GFC growth, the slump through the GFC and then a great resurgence until March last year when we were all hit by the Covid-19 Pandemic. While our small business has not survived this, we know we are just one of many who have suffered badly through this crisis and our heartfelt thoughts go out to all of you in the tourism industry who are still struggling to survive.

To Everyone who can make it in for a flight before we close we look forward to seeing you and giving one last look at our beautiful mountains! 

Kind regards

The Mountain Air Team

My profile on Mountain Air, which largely focussed on the airline side of the business can be found here http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/11/mountain-air-friendly-connection.html

18 March 2021

Expanding Routes and New Aircraft


I see on their Facebook page Fly My Sky is looking for 2-3 pilots to join our growing team as we expand routes and add new aircraft.

Interesting development...

Fly My Sky's BN Islander ZK-PIZ about depart on a service to Great Barrier Island on 13 March 2021

So another to stretch the memory banks, what airlines have operated BN Islanders on regular services in New Zealand

Double Flights Delayed


According to Originair's schedule twice daily flights between Hamilton and Palmerston were to commence on the 28th of March 2021 after the arrival of a third Jetstream. From the reservations system the start date seems to have been delayed until the 3rd of May with the twice daily flights only operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. By then what was a relatively busy route for Air New Zealand will not have been operated for 13 months so Originair will have a job to lure business passengers back to it. It still, in my opinion, needs to improve the proposed schedule.

16 March 2021

Jetting through Auckland

Jetting in and out of Auckland on 13 March 2021 were...

Airbus 330-300 DQ-FJW was about to depart for Nadi

Gulfstream Aerospace GVII-G600 M-AMBA arrived from Nelson

Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZE was operating NZ1082 to Christchurch and Guangzhou

Olympus Airways' Boeing 757-200 SX-APX was operating Airwork 1 to Sydney 

while Tasman Cargo Airlines' Boeing 767-300 VH-EXZ was operating Tasman 2 from Sydney

Jetstar Airbus VH-VGO was operating JQ269 to Dunedin

Jetstar Airbus VH-VGP was operating JQ261 to Wellington


15 March 2021

The Caravan Carriers

Two New Zealand airlines are currently operating Cessna 208B Grand Caravans on scheduled services... As a little brain teaser how many other airlines in can you think of that have operated Caravans in the past???

Sounds Air's Cessna Grand Caravan's ply Cook Strait... On I caught 4 March 2021 ZK-SAY arriving in Wellington with S8 276 from Blenheim.

Barrier Air's Cessna Grand Caravan's ply the Hauraki Gulf flying to Great Barrier Island from North Shore and Auckland and north to Kaitaia. On 13 March 2021 ZK-SDC and ZK-SDD were busy operating the Saturday afternoon services from Auckland to Great Barrier Island. 

14 March 2021

A conversation with the late Malcolm Campbell

Last year Eagle Air's founder Malcolm Campbell died after a brief illness. In 2013 Dave Holmwood from the Wings Over New Zealand website did an interview with him. You can here it here...


Island Air Safaris - Experience the Magic of Motiti and Beyond


Motiti Island Air Ltd, which was to trade as Island Air Safaris, was established by Wayne Renner, Douglas Taylor and Vernon Wills on the 5th of September 1984. The operator flew to Motiti Island on a charter basis using Cessna 206 and DHC Beavers but also operated scenic and charter flights from Tauranga.

The initial aircraft was Cessna P206 Super Skylane ZK-DRD (c/n P206-0135). This was later joined by leased Cessna U206G Stationair 6 ZK-FLD (c/n U20604795).

The first two Island Air Safaris' Cessnas... Cessna 206 ZK-DRD at Tauranga on 1 September 1985...

...and Cessna 206 ZK-FLD at Tauranga on 1 April 1986

Cessna 206 ZK-DRD was later repainted as seen here on 2 November 1986

The service was particularly aimed at fishermen and divers and supporting a lodge on Motiti Island. It also served the needs of the local. During the summer of 1986/1987, with the service growing, Island Air Safaris leased De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver ZK-CZL from Fieldair after its rebuild. The lease convince Island Air Safaris of the need for its own Beaver and after its rebuild Island Air Safaris acquired, initially on a lease, ZK-AZB. It operated its first flight Tauranga-Motiti Island-Tauranga run on the 31st of July 1987 and was registered to Motiti Island Air on the 11th of February 1988.

Island Air Safaris' first DHC Beaver ZK-CZL at Tauranga on 1 January 1987

Their own machine, DHC Beaver ZK-AZB at Tauranga on 19 May 1988

As well as servicing Motiti Island the company also acquired Cessna A188B Agwagon C ZK-DMA  (c/n 188-01350) to use on agricultural work. It was registered to Motiti Island Air on the 14th of January 1989. It had an unfortunate end. On the 15th of April 1989 it was on spraying work near Te Puke when it stuck a wire. Faced with an engine fire and loss of  power the pilot made a forced landing. The pilot suffered serious burns before escaping from the cockpit and the aircraft was destroyed.

Cessna 188 Agwagon ZK-DMA at Tauranga on 19 May 1988

Motiti Island Air had one other aircraft registered to it, Cessna 152 ZK-FPI (c/n 15281203) which was used for training and hire. 

Cessna 152 ZK-FPI at Paraparaumu on 15 May 1988 while registered to Motiti Island Air

The NZ Herald edition of the 5th of August 1989 advertised the company for sale... We are offering for sale an established passenger and charter service operating from Tauranga Airport. Primary involvement is in servicing an offshore island and in tourist work. Business includes Stationair Cessna 206 aircraft and existing service contracts. Office facilities available would suit CPL owner/operator. For full details, write to: 14 0401 AIR SERVICE, PO BOX 2052, TAURANGA.

13 March 2021

Saab on Pax Service to the Chathams


Operating  Air Chathams' flight 3C 591 from Auckland to the Chatham Islands and the return flight to Auckland 3C 519 was Saab 340A ZK-CIY. I am open to correction, but I think this may have been the first time a Saab has been used on one of Air Chathams' scheduled passenger services to the Chatham Islands.

Air Chathams operated the first Saab flight to the Chatham Islands on the 21st of December 2020 when it ZK-CIY flew out to the Chathams to operate a freight flight to Wellington. 

Being towed back to the hangar Air Chathams' Saab 340 ZK-CIY after arriving back into Auckland from Chatham Islands.

12 March 2021

A Slight Schedule Increase


Sounds Air have added an additional flight on Fridays between Blenheim and Christchurch. The flight leaves Blenheim at 1430 and Christchurch at 1540 for the 50 minute flights. The airline operates thrice daily between the two centres with the exception of Saturdays with one return flight and now Friday with four return flights

10 March 2021

Seeing the country - Island hopping - 3rd level style

Thanks to Lawrence Acket who has been getting some aviation fixes supporting the local island hoppers with a kaleidoscope of adventures with operators around the country

Island Hopping with Fly My Sky:  A trip from AKL to Great Barrier in January with the iconic BN2A Islander ZK-EVO operated flight AAX170

Arriving at Claris from North Shore ( Dairy Flat) Islander ZK-PIZ  before operating the sector back to AKL and my chariot home flight GBX185.  Islanders at the Barrier have been seen on the Island since the 1970’s and a permanent  fixture since the mid 1980’s.  ZK-PIZ has been part of the Barrier scene for over 23 years.

Island Hopping with Originair: Friday 05 Feb BAe J31 ZK-JSH operating Originair OG0538 WLG-NSN at Gate 20 prior to departure

Flt Originair OG0538 nearing Nelson.  Flight time between Wellington and Nelson 27 minutes

Classic head-on profile of the Jetstream

Friday 05 Feb Originair flight OG0538 NSN-WLG over the Marlbourough Sounds operated by ZK-JSK BAe J32 with a sector time 31 minutes

A modern stylish Interior of BAe J32 Jetstream ZK-JSK

Originair BAe J32 ZK-JSK gate 20 during its turnaround before returning to Nelson.  Originair operated two NSN-WLG-NSN on the Friday before Waitangi weekend using both Jetstreams.

Island Hopping with Soundsair: Desperate early morning shot at the Wellington regional departure gate of the arrival from Blenheim, Pilatus PC12/45 ZK-PLT.

A quick hop across “The Strait” on flight S8281.  Not your typical window view of a wing in a pressurised turbine airliner and not seeing a starboard engine?  Unless of course flying Soundsair

Spot the airfield with the dry grass vectors.  Omaka at a distance whilst on long finals for Woodbourne as it stands out surrounded by wineries. Omaka being our destination for the day attending the Healthy Bastard Bush Pilot Champs 2021.

Finals for Woodbourne and again the field perimeter stands out against the vines.  The sealed runway behind the windscreen pillar.   Air time 15 minutes and my quickest time ever across the Cook Strait.

Island Hopping Stewart Island Flights:  Classic vista of the iconic Islander in its element ( island hopping)

A unique runway for an airliner and one subject to tidal times so no two days the same.

Stewart Island Flights Island ZK-FWZ in its element Duck Creek- Mason Bay – Stewart Island Stewart Island Flights trialled 3 blade props for noise reduction with mixed results leading to a decision to return to standard 2 blades.  Note the hub caps on the mains which not often seen on NZ Islanders. All that’s missing in the photo – some locals in the form of native birds checking out the itinerant visitors?

Stewart Island Flights other Islander ZK-FXE now fitted with a Garmin digital dashboard on Flight WK167

Turning finals for Ryan’s Creek- Backtracking on the runway Stewart Island Flights Piper Cherokee 6 carrying the excess luggage as no space on our full flight.  Flight between Invercargill and Stewart Island, Ryan’s Creek 18 minutes. 

A quick picture between the out of the plane and into the shuttle herding of humans during a routine and rapid sector turnaround. 

A slick operation at Ryan’s Creek with the quick turnaround of deplaning and reloading of humans and luggage. No terminals or baggage handlers required here.  

 Islanders poised on the Invercargill tarmac ready for another scheduled service to Oban (Ryan’s Creek) or somewhere more exotic like a beach landing on the western side of Stewart Island. The BN-2 Islanders have long provided yeoman service to Stewart and Great Barrier Islands.  South East Air, doing business as Stewart Island Flights, have a very unique operation with weather conditions, prevailing winds and different mediums used for landing surfaces, few aircraft have the performance, ruggedness, reliability and crosswind capability to meet the demanding requirements. With the only replacement for an Islander is an Islander their wings above the waves will reign for years to come.  Long may they continue! Postscript.  During the Sunday night pub quiz at the South Seas Hotel, the quizmaster announced at the ½ time break that Auckland was going into level 3 lockdown by the morning.  We were quietly hoping our Invercargill to Auckland flight the following day would be disrupted and that we would have to ride it out at our location- no such luck as we returned the following day to a different world.