Aerodromes & Airstrips

One question I get asked quite often is "where can you fly to in your little planes?".

This page is the first step to helping to answer that question!

The short answer is "quite a lot of places" :-)

The following map shows approximately how far you can travel from Wellington in 1 hour and in 2 hours. You'll see that this is about half of the North Island and a bit under half of the South Island. Obviously, these are approximate and depend on the aircraft, the pilot, the weather and other traffic, but they give you a good idea!

Following the map and over the next few weeks, I'll start to document some of the places I have been to and perhaps why you could consider going there yourself! If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to look at it for you.

As always, if you are planning to fly into any of these aerodromes, DO YOUR OWN PLANNING FIRST! Make sure you have appropriate charts, an updated AIP, appropriate weather and if you're not sure about something, ask. Asking is much easier than trying to explain why something dodgy happened!

Sources of information
Civil Aviation Rules:
NOTAM, ATIS, Flight plans:

Places to visit within the green-yellow circle [approximately 1 hour]:
Masterton [NZMS]:
Masterton is approximately 45 minutes flight time north east from Wellington. Masterton is uncontrolled, has a sealed and several grass runways and is home to military aircraft from World Wars 1 and 2! NZMS is also an active Parachute Drop Zone [PDZ], so please take care! At this stage there are no scheduled flights in or out, but that may change later in 2014.
Map:  [note map may not show all runways, details, refer AIP for official maps]

Otaki [NZOT]:
Otaki is a small grass aerodrome about 35 minutes north of Wellington - very close to Paraparaumu aerodrome. It's a good place to practice landing of shorter runways if, like many pilots from Wellington, you're rather too used to long sealed runways!

There are a couple of local procedures, so I'd recommend calling a local first if you are unfamiliar with the aerodrome.

Wanganui [NZWU]:
Wanganui is the airport servicing Whanganui city. It consists of one sealed and several grass strips. Being right next to the ocean, there can very often be crosswinds present. There are a few scheduled flights in and out each day and the field is home to a fair amount of ag training.
Map: [note map may not show all runways, details, refer AIP for official maps]

D'Urville Island airstrip:
D'Urville Island is a DoC-managed island and my understanding is that the airstrip is available with prior permission [which is likely readily given]. It is not in the AIP, so ask someone who knows for the details of the airstrip. Google Earth is also your friend for this one. It is located at the north-east of the Marlborough Sounds.

D'Urville Island is a fantastic place to fly into, although will be very challenging if you've not been there before [ie: go dual at least the first time with an experienced instructor] and could be dangerous if the wind gets up, even around 15 knots or so. But, it is an awesome place to fly into... so do it! Closest registered airfield is at Nelson.

Omaka [NZOM]:
Omaka is the closest airfield to Blenheim township, although very close to Woodbourne [which is the main airfield]. It is a great field with friendly locals and home to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre - an absolute MUST visit if you've got a spare couple of hours or so!
Map: [note map may not show all runways, details, refer AIP for official maps]

Cape Campbell airstrip:
Cape Campbell is a short flight across Cook Strait to the south-west of Wellington. It's another unregistered strip and like D'Urville Island, you should get permission prior to flying in [but I am unsure as to who to ask... ideas anyone?]. Compared to D'Urville Island however, the approach and departures are a lot more straight forward, so most pilots with a good understanding of precision/ strip approaches should have little trouble.

Being unregistered, you should always check out the insurance situation ahead of time, and consider taking an instructor or more experienced [and sensible!] pilot in before trying it on your own. You need to be careful were to land [it's not on the gravel road!] and it's quite exposed so can get windy, including crosswinds. Closest registered airstrip is at Blenheim [Omaka].

Kaikoura [NZKI]:
Kaikoura airfield is located very close to Kaikoura township [naturally enough I suppose!] about 1 hour flight south-west of Wellington. This area is world famous for both sea- and air-based whale watching excursions. Kaikoura is parallel to the coastline, so you can expect sea/ land breezes [and therefore crosswinds] most of the time.

If you're flying in, there's nothing to stop you from engaging in your own private whale watching flight. As far as I can see, the requirements in s.18 and s.19 of the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations 1992 will apply. The Experimental Aircraft Association also has a useful summary of these regs and other useful points.

Motueka [NZMK]:
Motueka aerodrome is a small airfield located west of Wellington a few minutes west of Nelson. In most cases it'll probably take at least, maybe just over, an hour to fly there from Wellington.

Motueka is known for parachuting, growing hops and tobacco, and can be a busy little aerodrome. It's not particularly long and has trees and vineyards near the ends, so if you're not comfortable on shorter runways, just brush up on precision approaches and landings and max performance takeoffs... not too difficult though from what I recall. Motueka is very close to mountainous terrain and the ocean, so it has a bit of everything for everyone.

If you're looking for a place to stay or dine, try the Riwaka Hotel. You'll need a car, but from what I hear, it's worth the 7-8 minute drive from the aerodrome :-)

Foxpine [NZFP]:
Foxpine airfield is located at Foxton township about 45 minutes flight north of Wellington on the coastline. It's a great little airfield, although could be a bit challenging due to the tall trees at the eastern end [use the curved approach/ departure!] and in crosswinds. Perhaps that is what makes to so attractive to me :-)

Perhaps for that reason, I enjoy going to visit. It has also been a convenient place to get fuel without having to go out of my way from time to time. The locals are friendly and there's a few microlights operating from there, so something different to see if you fly certified aircraft.

Nelson [NZNS]:
Nelson is the largest airfield at the top of the South Island - a wee bit under an hour west from Wellington and just east of Motueka.

The local aero club are friendly, ATC is helpful and the aerodrome is easy to find should you need fuel or a stop over. From memory, Nelson itself is a nice enough place although I haven't left the airfield in quite a few years :-)

More coming soon!

Places to visit within the red circle [approximately 2 hours]:
Hawera [NZHA]:
Heading in completely the other direction is Hawera aerodrome. About 1.5 hours flight to the north west, past Whanganui is Hawera. I've only been there once [remember that trip, Rhys??]. It's a nice big aerodrome with long grass runways, the locals are friendly, and it's a great place to stop and assess the weather if it's looking dodgy through the Stratford Gap.

Christchurch [NZCH]:
Christchurch is New Zealand's second-largest airport, the largest in the South Island and our second international gateway after Auckland. they do have an aero club there, so ATC is used to handling light aircraft, but you'd probably be best to be organised before you arrive or depart :-)

Much like any major airport, it's quite a hike to the city unless you have a car, or get picked up. Make certain you have your licence and photo id or you won't get back to your plane!

More coming soon...


Anonymous said...

Great Map.

What NZ really needs is a similar map with information for visiting GA planes. Coffee & food, walking distance to..., on field museums / attactions..., fuel, maintenance etc.

That would be a good resource.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rodney

That was quick! Thanks for the effort; I reckon that's a good start for something really useful (and a big project, I admit).

It would be good to draw up a standard list of info for each field - good ideas from Anonymous above and on the Parakai site - and crowd source the work of filling it in. Links to club/field websites would be one of the data fields but having key info all in one place would really help people plan flights to new spots. Link to NZAIP pages could also be useful.


Anonymous said...

PS. Matthew Stibbe on Golf Hotel Whiskey has a really useful and I think simple approach to this


Rodney said...

Hello Andrew and Anon,

Thanks for your comments - all great ideas! My plan is that over the next few weeks, I'll play around with this page a little more.

Once I am happy with what I can/ can not do with the technology (at the moment, there's a lot of manual effort required... grrrr) I want to look at expanding it along the lines of what you have suggested.

Andrew - the Golf Whiskey Hotel blog is probably close to what I was envisaging heading towards, so thanks for the link! Nice confirmation of thoughts and the more ideas I get, the better!



Rodney said...

OK folks, after my initial attempt failed [technology...!], I've just put up a new map and new info. I'll see if I can keep this updated for you all!

Rodney said...

Many thanks to MG for the links to map information sourced from LINZ. Where an aerodrome has a link in this data, it will be provided.

B J Souter said...

Tie a piece of string around a finger to ensure any info published remains accurate and up to date.

If not, it could be the first hole in the Swiss cheese that leads to an accident. It is the originator's responsibility to remove out date and inaccurate information that could be the start of an unfortunate chain of events.