Flights to Great Barrier leave from the regional end of what was then the Air New Zealand domestic terminal, but is now the combined domestic terminal. At the time the island was served by Great Barrier Airlines (nowadays Barrier Air) and Mountain Air Express (now FlyMySky) from AIAL. In this post are a selection of opportunistic shots I took at the time, mainly of the smaller aircraft present at the airports. For those not living in NZ note that smaller types usually don't bother showing the ZK refix to their registrations since their range won't get them to any other country!
We were scheduled to fly with Great Barrier Airlines, which at the time was easily the larger of the two operators. Our stead on the outbound journey would be the Trislander ZK-LOU. At the time Auckland still had a viewing area, outside but shooting through glass, at the domestic terminal so I took a few shots whilst we waited for the gate to be called. The most common domestic aircraft at the time were Air Nelson Saab 340s and DHC-8s, Air NZ 737-300s and Eagle Air Beech 1900Ds. There were a few other interesting types about though like the GAF Nomad below. Annoyingly I didn't get the rego at the time.
Walking out to our aircraft gave us plenty of scope for open air shots of traffic at the regional gates and by the Airworks hangar, whilst the big windows of the Trislander gave good views of the ramp too. This wasn't my first time on a Trislander as I had previously flown on three different Aurigny Trislanders between Southampton, Guernsey and Alderney.
I have to say taxiing in a Trislander surrounded by A340s, 747s and even 737s makes you feel pretty small. You can see how much lower you are in the photo below. It's a little unnerving.
The flight to Claris doesn't take long and the airfield is a lovely little place as you'd imagine. The main runway ends at the beach. In the photo below we're coming in to land.
At the time Great Barrier Airlines were painting their fleet into a lovely range of native bird schemes. Below the Piper PA-32 wears the Stitchbird/Hihi and the Islander wears the NZ Pigeon/Kereru.
In the below shot taken from Kaitoki Beach ZK-LOU returns to Auckland:
We had a great long weekend on the Barrier, which is a beautiful and friendly island and whilst awaiting our return flight I was able to get some more shots of the Claris traffic. It's a surprisingly busy little airport with quite a bit of private flying as well as schedules to Auckland, Ardmore and Tauranga. Our return flight was on the Pigeon painted Islander ZK-FVD. Note that ZK-REA below was wearing the NZ Kingfisher / Kotare version of the Great Barrier bird schemes:
The return from Great Barrier was eventless and we landed at AIAL where I got another few shots. I didn't fly again until December 2006 when I started being sent on business trips so in my next post we'll take a look at Auckland at the end of 2006.
I'm Richard Stretton, an aviation enthusiast and major collector of 400 scale model aircraft. This blog discusses ongoing events in the world of 400 scale.
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