30 June 2022

New International Air Freight Flights

The Christchurch International Airport Facebook page has announced that from next Monday, 4 July 2022, FedEx New Zealand will increase overnight trans-Tasman service, linking Christchurch with Melbourne five days a week and using Airwork aircraft

26 June 2022

Ross - One of Air Travel (NZ)'s Ports

I was browsing on Papers Past the other day and I found an account of an Air Travel (NZ) aircraft calling at Ross. For those of you who don't know where Ross is, and I can't imagine anyone not knowing, it is 26km south of Hokitika, and was the terminus of the West Coast-Christchurch railcar service until the railcars south of Greymouth were withdrawn in 1972.

The Ross aerodrome was first used on the of 21st of August 1934. The Hokitika Guardian recorded the event as follows

Captain J. C. Mercer, in a Canterbury Aero Club Fox Moth machine (ZK-ADH), arrived at Hokitika last evening, having travelled up the coast from Okuru, and landing at Waiho enroute. On his trip down, he took the District Engineer (Mr J. Smith), land purchase officer (Mr F. S. Reed), and Mr Smart (surveyor). The latter stopped at Okuru to carry out survey operations. This morning Captain Mercer, accompanied by Mr Paul Renton, junr., left Hokitika at 9 o’clock for Ross where the first official landing was made on the Ross aerodrome, which, has recently been prepared. There was a large crowd assembled to welcome the visitors. The new landing ground is situated between the township and Ross railway station, on the tailing site of the old Mont d’Or sluicing claim, and is formed of the sluice silt from the claim. There is an area of some 500 acres available. A portion of this has been drained and levelled, and the work is of an easy nature, there being only fine gravel and sand comprising the area. Captain Mercer received a warm welcome. He made a perfect landing, and spoke highly of the possibilities of the ground for aeroplane landing purposes, considering it could be easily made into one of the finest landing places on the Coast. Captain Mercer left Ross shortly after 10 o’clock and landed at Southside aerodrome about 10 30 o’clock, after a pleasant morning run.

The Canterbury Aero Club's Fox Moth ZK-ADH at Ross on the 21st of August 1934. Photo : J C Mercer Collection

The first recorded landing by Air Travel (NZ) in the Hokitika Guardian appears on the 28th of January 1935... A busy day was spent in passenger transport by Mr J. C. Mercer on Saturday. He left Waiho at 6.30am far Bruce Bay and brought two passengers to Hokitika. He returned to Waiho and brought up two more, one of whom he took on to Inchbonnie. Mr Mercer there awaited the express, and later brought a passenger south landing here before going on to Ross, where he arrived at 4.10pm. Mr Mercer left Hokitika this morning for the south with the air mail and one passenger.

The locals were clearly very interested in developing their aerodrome and had ideas of grandeur that never came to pass. The Hokitika Guardian of the 14th of March 1936 reported that A visit of inspection was paid to the Aerodrome at Ross on Friday afternoon by his Worship the Mayor, Town Clerk, Messrs Johnston, Renton and the secretary of the Aero Club, Mr K. O. May. The party were shown over the ground by Mr Thornhill Cooper, Public Works Overseer, who pointed out the recent improvements carried out. Some five years ago the writer could not penetrate much of the ground even in gumboots and was agreeably surprised today to be driven over it in a car. The splendid results of drainage can be seen on every hand, as a large drain on the top side cut off water before reaching the landing ground. Another large drain on the sea side takes the seepage into the Totara River. It was decided to take in another block which will give a run of 800 yards in a north and south direction. Much more work will have to be done before the area is to its capacity, as it contains some 500 acres. The prevailing wind comes from a south-west direction and it is imperative that an extension in this direction should be made as soon as possible so that eventually a run of a mile can be obtained when required. It is admitted, by experts that the nearest lauding ground in New Zealand from Australia is the hop from Hobart in Tasmania either to Ross or Hokitika. With present day machines the hop can be accomplished under eight hours so whether Ross or Hokitika will be the main landing ground or not depends on the facilities offered.

From the N.Z. Air Pilot, 1936

The Guardian of the 30th of August 1937 reported that a second runway was being developed. The whole of the area, comprising 41 acres, is at present being ploughed. The ground has already been levelled and drained, and when the ploughing is completed, it is the intention to disc, lane, manure, and sow it down in grass. The work is being done by Mr W. Hamilton, of Ross. When completed the aerodrome should have a runway in two directions of about 600 yards, and should form an important link in the chain of aerodromes throughout the West Coast air route. 

So where was Ross aerodrome... it was located between the town (the edge of the town is seen in the top right hand photo of the following photo) and Stuart and Chapman's sawmill and the Ross railway station bottom left) as seen in these 1948 aerial photographs of the Ross area.

From the https://retrolens.co.nz/ site... photos taken 12 April 1948

By 1966 there is no sign of the airfield in the aerial photos.

24 June 2022

Wellington on Wednesday

Fiji Airways' Boeing 737 MAX heading home from Wellington to Nadi on 22 June 2022 with FJ460

Sounds Air's Cessna 208 Grand Caravan heading off to Blenheim with S8 269

2 ATR 72s - 2 airlines... Air New Zealand's ZK-MVE and Air Chathams' ZK-MCO at Wellington on 22 June 2022

22 June 2022

New King Air


Placed on the register last month was Beechcraft B300 King Air ZK-APL. Registered to Apollo Air Ltd, the company is a subsidiary company of Apollo Projects Group Ltd, a leading design and construction company, with more than 60 project and support staff across Aotearoa. The company regularly works with major national companies and organisations, including Fonterra, Ngai Tahu, Goodman Fielder, George Western Foods, and Lion Co. as well as private owner-operated businesses, sports organisations, local councils and government agencies.

A big thanks to Terry Hodges for these pictures of Beechcraft B300 King Air ZK-APL taken at Nelson on 22 June 2022

The original ZK-APL was a de Havilland Tiger Moth owned by Jack Gould of Paraparaumu. He founded his own air freight company which will be the subject of my historical airline profile in July. Sadly he was killed and the aircraft destroyed at Paraparaumu on Christmas Eve, 1947

Internationals on Thursday

On departure from Auckland on 16 June 2022 was Singapore Airlines' Airbus 350-900 9V-SMP off to Singapore as SQ 286

Tahiti Nui's Boeing 787-9 was off to Papeete as TN182

 Thai International's Airbus 350-900 HS-THK was off to Bangkok as TG492

Arriving was China Southern's Boeing 787-9 B-1243 with CZ305 from Guangzhou
and China Airlines Airbus 350-900 with CI59 from Taipei

21 June 2022

Air New Zealand on Thursday

Air New Zealand departures from Auckland on 16 June 2022 included ATR 72 ZK-MVB off to Nelson with NZ5077 

ZK-MVD was off to Napier with NZ5021 

Bombardier Q300 ZK-NEF was off to Kerikeri with NZ8268

ZK-NEW was off to New Plymouth with NZ8041

My first photo of Airbus 320 Neo ZK-NHE which was off to Queenstown as NZ623

Airbus 321 Neo ZK-NNG was off to Sydney as NZ109

Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZG was off to Rarotonga as NZ948

Airbus 320 ZK-OXH was off to Wellington as NZ433

20 June 2022

Aussie Airliners on Thursday

At Auckland on 16 June 2022 Jetstar's Airbus 320 VH-VFV was off to Queenstown as JQ261

Jetstar's Airbus 320 VH-VGQ was off to Christchurch as JQ233

Qantas Boeing 737-800 VH-XZK was off to Melbourne as QF156

19 June 2022


Up on the Air Whanganui - previously Air Wanganui - Facebook page are photos of their Beech King Air 200 ZK-MDC which has been repainted in a stunning new scheme and revealing rebranded Air Whanganui name and logo. 

My profile on Air Wanganui, which used to operate an airline services, can be found here...  http://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2019/05/air-wanganui-and-piper-mojave.html


Skyline Aviation on Thursday

A couple of Skyline Aviation's Beech Super King Airs were in action at Auckland on 16 June 2022... ZK-MFT, was off to Whangarei as SKY 8
ZK-SSH was off to Hamilton as SKY 2


18 June 2022

Air Chathams on Thursday

Ever since it entered service I have struggled to get decent photos of Air Chathams' ATR 72 ZK-MCO. Thursday was the day so I trucked out to Auckland International to capture the departure of the flight to the Chatham Islands.

Air Chathams' first ATR 72-500 ZK-MCO operating 3C 591 to the Chatham Islands at Auckland on 16 June 2022

Saab 340 ZK-CIY arriving into Auckland on 16 June 2022 as 3C 362 from Blenheim... I'm presuming a freight flight. 

17 June 2022

Seeing Double

Thanks to Grant Bacon for these pics of  Cessna Grand Caravans ZK-SDC and ZK-SDE at Whitianga today, 17 June 2022. The two Caravans were operating the afternoon flight today which necessitated a second aircraft. In an interview on Whitianga-based Altbays Studios' YouTube channel in earlier this week Grant, Barrier Air's CEO, said there were "great passenger numbers to Whitianga from day one… May has been the best month since the service started." It looks as is the success is continuing.

16 June 2022

New Barrier - Tauranga Connection

Live on Barrier Air's reservation system now are their new Great Barrier Island-Tauranga flights which start on the 2nd of December 2022. The airline is starting the new service with three flights being offered each week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The flight from Great Barrier Island to Tauranga will depart at 4.20pm and arrive at 5.00pm. The return flight will leave Tauranga at 5.45pm and arrive at Great Barrier Island at 6.25pm. An economy fare is $175 while a premium fare in $189.

Barrier Air's CEO Grant Bacon said "It is great to be growing our route network into destinations like Tauranga. The population in the city is at a level which we think a scheduled service to Great Barrier Island will work well and it gives us a base at Tauranga to pursue other routes in the future. These are uncertain times and operating costs are going thru the roof but the 3 x weekly schedule gives us the opportunity with limited exposure."