18 July 2021

A card from Texas - Volcanic Wunderflites


Some time ago I received an email from Peter from Fort Worth, Texas... He writes

I enjoy reading your blog about New Zealand's third-level airlines. I am very appreciative of the wealth of information you shared in your blog. Recently, I acquired a card apparently issued by an outfit called "Rotorua's Volcanic Wunderflites" featuring the "Golden Queen", a Cessna 207 flying over the volcanoes of Rotorua. I have researched your site and the web but could not find any information. I enlarged the picture of the Cessna and tried to figure out the New Zealand registration of this aircraft to no avail. Please advise if you have any insights into the airline or the aircraft. Scans of the aforementioned card are enclosed for your examination. Thank you and best regards!

I had already told Peter that it was Cessna 207 ZK-DQF but I had promised him that I would do a post on Volcanic Wunderflites.  So a little history, again, largely drawn from Don Stafford's Flying the Thermal Skies.

On the 26th of February 1971 the Rotorua Aero Club acquired Cessna 207 ZK-DAX and with the arrival of this aircraft the Club inaugurated a more tourist oriented commercial flightseeing service under the name Volcanic Wunderflites under the leadership of well know New Zealand aviator Fred Ladd (see http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2011/11/shower-of-spray-and-were-away-nz.html). It operated from Rotorua airport over the volcanic sites in the Rotorua area but particularly over Mount Tarawera (as shown in the photo).

An early photo of Volcanic Airways Cessna 172 ZK-CKV taken on 1 August 1971 at Rotorua. Photo : J Page, MOTAT Collection

A second Cessna 207 Skywagon, ZK-DQF, was added to the Volcanic Wunderflites' fleet in December 1973 and another Cessna 207 ZK-DXG in January 1975. In December 1975 Fred Ladd retired from Volcanic Wunderflites and his place was taken by Ron Fincham.

Volcanic Wunderflites' Cessna 207 ZK-DXG at Rotorua on 27 January 1984

Late in 1979 Volcanic Wunderflites opened an airstrip on Mount Tarawera after almost 3 years of debate and construction. 

Cessna 172 ZK-DHS in the Volcanic Wunderflites new colour scheme at Rotorua on 27 January 1984

A few minutes stopover on the Newmans Air Dash 7 in the background but time enough to get Cessna 207 ZK-DQF at Rotorua on 29 October 1986

The Volcanic Wunderflites operation wound up soon after this photo of ZK-DQF was taken

Aircraft Used 

Cessna 172


Cessna 207



  1. Hi there,
    My name is Wayne Puddle, President of the Rotorua Aero club. I am very interested in the wonder flights pamphlets and photos you have uploaded,have you got a pdf you can send me so i can print them of to display at the Aero club? Where did you acquire these from?

    Regards Wayne

  2. Hi Wayne... Can you email me, westland831@gmail.com Steve