30 April 2023

All year around ops


Golden Bay Air has issued their latest timetable with a significant change being the operation of all year around flights between Takaka and Wellington. Until now the airline has normally had a holiday during August.

The airline will also be looking forward to the reopening of the Heaphy Track in October which will boost the numbers of the airline's popular flights to and from Karamea. These flights operate to and from Takaka and Nelson according to demand.

The airline currently operates four aircraft, BN Islander ZK-EVO, Gippsland Airvan ZK-ZUG, Piper Seneca ZK-ZAG and Piper Archer ZK-ZOG.

29 April 2023

Seneca exits the fleet

On the 15th of March 2023 Piper PA34-220T Seneca ZK-NAP departed New Zealand on route to Australia via Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. It was cancelled from the New Zealand register on the 6th of April 2023.

Piper Seneca ZK-NAP at Gisborne on 7 November 2016

Air Napier's fleet now consists of Piper Navajo, ZK-NPR, Piper Seneca's ZK-MSL and ZK-WUG and Piper Cherokee 6 ZK-ELK. It's only regular route is the courier service between Napier and Gisborne.

28 April 2023

Sunair returns to Gisborne

Sunair's winter timetable is now on their website and shows flights once again linking Gisborne to both Tauranga and Hamilton, with two return flights each day offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

On the Whangarei to Hamilton and/or Tauranga routes flights are offered on weekdays. All other flights are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Out the Plane Window

A desperation shot of Texel Air's Boeing 737-300 A9C-APC while on the taxi to the gate at Auckland on 26 April 2023


26 April 2023

ANZAC Day at North Shore

Cessna 182 ZK-NPC at North Shore on 25 April 2023

Island Aviation's Britten Norman Islander ZK-PIZ at North Shore on 25 April 2023

Cessna 206 ZK-RPM at North Shore on 25 April 2023

Vans RV-6A ZK-TRV at North Shore on 25 April 2023

Eagle 150B ZK-XAB at North Shore on 25 April 2023


25 April 2023

Anzac Cessna

Thanks to Jordan Elvy for these great pictures of Air Ruatoria's Cessna 206 ZK-NVC sporting Anzac Day poppies as seen at Paraparaumu on 23 April 2023. 

This remembering our servicemen and women continues a theme for Air Ruatoria as the Māori  Battalion featured on their previous Cessna 206, ZK-FJH... see https://3rdlevelnz.blogspot.com/2023/03/living-dream-air-ruatoria.html

At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
we will remember them

20 April 2023

Wellington-Palmy flights

A couple of people have pointed out to me that Originair is operating flights between Palmerston North and Wellington.

Checking Originair's new timetable on their website I found a couple of sectors each week between Wellington and Palmerston North. On Monday and Wednesday mornings a Jetstream operates Nelson-Wellington-Palmerston North in the mornings. On Monday and Tuesday afternoons a Jetstream operates Palmerston North-Wellington-Nelson in the afternoons. This effectively adds additional seats between Nelson and Palmerston North and fills flights to Wellington that might not be so full.

The airline is also operating 8 direct flights between Nelson and Palmerston North each week and 12 flights between Nelson and Wellington each week. Flights between Hamilton and Palmerston North remain at three a week and these remain totally unsuitable for business traffic. Considering Air New Zealand was operating two Q300s on this route each week day at peak times with the vast majority of passengers flying between the two centres this route remains a real opportunity.

18 April 2023

Blowing in the wind

It was a blustery day at North Shore on 16 April 2023 and so not many aircraft were flying but there were some spectacular landings. Island Aviation's BN Islander ZK-PIZ made a superb landing on arrival from Waiheke before setting out for Great Barrier Island.

17 April 2023

On an airport pick up...

I was on an airport pick up on Friday 14 April 2023 and was delighted to finally get a picture of Air Whanganui's Beech Super King Air ZK-MDC in its smart new colour scheme...

Beech Super King Air ZK-MDC at Auckland on 14 April 2023

As a bonus Air Chathams' Saab 340 ZK-CIY was given an extended taxi due to a Q300 holding on the taxiway...

Air Chathams' Saab 340 ZK-CIY at Auckland on 14 April 2023

16 April 2023

Committed to Preserving Aviation History


The Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand has been in existence since 1958 and it turns 65 this year.

Over the last 65 years it has recorded the history and current events of aviation in New Zealand in its journals and other publications. But more than that it has inspired others to record what's happening today and ensure this is preserved for it is tomorrows history.

In our digital age it is going to be really easy to lose our history as computers die or memory sticks fail and social media platforms are replaced.

Normally 65 is the age for retirement in New Zealand. But the AHSNZ can't be allowed to retire or its continuing work to preserve our aviation history to be lost. Often the museums are interested more in the like of aircraft rather than the recording of details.

If you have a passion for the aviation scene in New Zealand, both civil and military, and are interested in ensuring its history be preserved can I suggest you need to join the AHSNZ. It costs $60 per annum for people in New Zealand so its not a huge amount. You get some great publications and emailed publications. And the Society is working on a new website that will have good resources for members.

But more than that it gives the opportunity for people to present their own stories and photos in a forum where the history will be preserved. 

A copy of the application form can be found below. For more inquiries email the amazing Ron Ark, ron.ark@xtra.co.nz

Ron Ark wrote recently, "As at 31st March 2023, the society membership stands at 190 paid up members, we thank you all for your continuing support. I would encourage all members, where possible, to try and introduce at least one new member to the society ranks over the next 12 months. This will ensure that the momentum that we presently have, can continue and we can secure our future for years to come."

15 April 2023

ZK-CIC Retired

Air Chathams has retired its first Metroliner ZK-CIC after nearly 30 years of service with New Zealand's largest regional airline. This makes the ZK-CIC the longest serving aircraft of any aircraft Air Chathams have operated.

The Fairchild Swearingen SA227AC Metroliner III, c/n AC-623, was first registered to the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation of San Antonio, Texas, in October 1985 as N623AV. The following month the registration was transferred to the AMR Leasing Corporation of, Dallas, Texas. In April 1992 it was sold to British Aerospace Incorporated of Herndon, Virginia. It returned to the Fairchild Aircraft Corporation in January 1993 before having its American registration cancelled in September of that year and being registered to Air Transport (Chatham Islands) Ltd  as ZK-CIC on the 22nd of September 1993. With a change in the company name the registration ownership was changed to Air Chathams Ltd on the 2nd of August 1996.

ZK-CIC was purchased to replace Beech 99 ZK-CIB, Air Chatham's first turboprop. With the introduction of the Metroliner Air Chathams introduced a more comprehensive schedule to the mainland with twice weekly flights from the Chathams to Christchurch and three or four flights to Wellington, one of these also including Napier. Flying at 250 knots with a capacity of 17 cubic metres and equipped with a rear-loading cargo door measuring 1.3 metres, the Metroliner was an ideal combi aircraft, being used to transport one tonne of freight with 11 passengers or in an all-cargo configuration carrying two tonnes.

A desperation shot of ZK-CIC but one which shows off the advantage of the Metroliner's large rear cargo hatch. The Metroliner, while crammed, offered a pressurised cabin and more flexibility to the expanding airline. Taken at Christchurch on 28 April 1994

From 1994 an air war developed with Mount Cook Airline who were operating the Government-subsidised air service to the Chatham Islands. This battle was to cost both Mount Cook and Air Chathams dearly but in the end Air Chathams was to prevail with Air Chathams introducing the legendary Convair 580 to the route.

Heavy in the tail... Metroliner ZK-CIC fuelled and loaded starts at Christchurch for the long haul to the Chathams on 11 November 1996.

With the introduction of the Convair Air Chathams had to look for new work for the Metroliner. In September 1997 the Southland Times announced that it was going to fly consignments of live lobsters between Invercargill and Christchurch. In late 1997 and 1998 it was used on contract with Ansett Air Freight and Air National while still being available to support the Convair during maintenance or breakdowns. Later Origin Pacific also used the Metroliner for both passenger and freight services. 

Above, Metroliner ZK-CIC at New Plymouth on 8 October 1999 while operating passenger services for Origin Pacific. Below, painted in full Origin Pacific colours, ZK-CIC at Christchurch awaiting take off clearance on runway 29 while on an Origin Pacific freight flight on 16 October 2000.

After the collapse of CityJet in late 1999 Origin Pacific picked up their freight runs and ZK-CIC was used on this work as well as well as Origin's passenger services.

Following the collapse of Origin Pacific in 2006 the Metroliner returned to the Air Chathams fleet for use on charter work as well as back up for the Convair and during this time it was used to operate an extra Friday flight between Christchurch and the Chathams over the summer months.

Back operating for Air Chathams but still in Origin colours, ZK-CIC, on finals for runway 02 at Christchurch on 7 December 2007.

In 2008 Air Chathams established Chathams Pacific which operate domestic services in Tonga until 2013. A Convair and Metroliner ZK-CIC were deployed to Tonga. 

Still with Origin Pacific colours but Chathams Pacific titles ZK-CIC arrives back into Tongatapu's Fua'amotu International Airport on 6 January 2011

In 2013 Tongan government set Real Tonga to provide a second airline and competition in the small Tongan domestic market. Rather than compete in the limited market Air Chathams made the decision to withdraw its Chathams Pacific operation and so Metroliner ZK-CIC returned to New Zealand on the 6th of February 2014. 

There was, however, little work for ZK-CIC in New Zealand until the 28th of April 2015 when Air New Zealand withdrew its services to Whakatāne. Air Chathams took over the service the same day. ZK-CIC became the mainstay of the Whakatāne service. Initially two flights were operated each weekday with a reduced weekend schedule but from the 27th of July 2015 the weekday schedule was increased to three flights a day. 

A rather bland looking Metroliner ZK-CIC looking for work at Auckland on 25 March 2014

The Whakatāne service got further promotion in December 2015 when Air Chathams rebranded ZK-CIC in a unique Whakatāne colour scheme featuring White Island/Whaakari. 

Fairchild Metroliner ZK-CIC, the Whakatāne plane, taxis to the terminal at Whakatāne on 28 December 2015

And again, a full sun shot of Air Chatham's Whakatane colour scheme, at Whakatāne on 21 April 2017

Following the tragic eruption of Whakaari/White Island, in August 2020 ZK-CIC was stripped of its Whakatāne colour scheme which featured the volcanic island. It was in an interim colour scheme before being repainted back into full Air Chathams' colours.

Air Chathams' Fairchild Metroliner III ZK-CIC in the rain at Whakatāne on 11 August 2020. 

Back in Air Chathams' colour scheme, Fairchild Metroliner ZK-CIC at Whakatāne on 26 April 2021. Personally I don't like the URL titles.

In more recent years ZK-CIC has been used on Air Chathams' regional services, primarily to Whakatāne, as well on the various charter passenger and freight services that Air Chathams operated. 

By late 2022 ZK-CIC's days were drawing to an end and there was talk of retiring it from the fleet.

It operated its final passenger flights on the 17th of October 2022 flying flight 3C 824 from Auckland to Auckland to Whakatane under the command of Alan Breen and Tom Fackney and then 3C 829 from Whakatane to Auckland under the command of Tom Fackney and Daryl Petit. The final freighter flights were operated on the 4th of November 2022 from Wellington to the Chatham Islands and the final freighter flights, 3C 221 from Wellington to the Chatham Islands and the return flight 3C 212 from the Chatham Islands to Wellington under the command of Darron Kyle and Gary Downs. Its final positioning flight was from Wellington to Auckland on the 24th of November 2022 as 3C 251 under the command of Nico Matsis and Nick Reid.

By April 2023 ZK-CIC was sitting engineless at Auckland International Airport. Air Chathams' Chief Operating Officer Duane Emeny told 3rd Level New Zealand,  "It is highly unlikely that she will fly again sadly. Structural work required on a well used airframe is highly cost prohibitive."

ZK-CIC engineless at Auckland on 9 April 2023 alongside Metro 23 ZK-POE.

Like the Convair ZK-CIB, Metroliner ZK-CIC was capable of operating in a number of roles... all passenger, all freight or combi. For Air Chathams this made ZK-CIC an ideal workhorse and a great platform for its 30 year service with the airline.

Jayden Beck, Operations Control Manager wrote a final epitaph for ZK-CIC, describing her as, "a truly beloved aircraft by a lot of the Air Chathams team."

Flying into the history books... ZK-CIC departing Auckland on 13 February 2021