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On 30 April 2022 Chris flew Grumman Ag-Cat ZK-RTA from Rotorua to Pukaki Airport. The straight-line distance was over 850 km and it took six hours flying time with stops in Whanganui, Omaka Aerodrome and Rangiora Airfield.
There are just three airworthy Ag-Cats in New Zealand. One is powered by a turbine engine and works as a crop sprayer in the North Island. Aviation Adventures now owns the other two. These are the only radial-engined Ag-Cats in the country and the only converted to open-cockpit scenic flying.
Click on the You Tube link here to see the flight.
Credit: Will Patino
Tours by arrangement
Flights over four Central and North Otago film locations
Credit: Will Patino
Thanks to the support of locals, we have managed to survive the drop in business due to the government closing the borders to international visitors because of the COVID pandemic.
We have diversified our products in the past year and now specialise in catering for landscape photographers by doing early morning and evening flights. We can also fly movie buffs over four well-known Central and North Otago movie locations including Power of the Dog, Lord of the Rings, Slow West and Mulan.
We have also expanded out small aviation museum. We can do one-hour guided tours by arrangement. Come and check it out!
What a crazy year it has been for everyone! For Aviation Adventures it has been a real roller coaster. To make up for lost business during lockdown, we decided to operate right through winter. Numbers of visitors were relatively good, particularly in September when lots of New Zealanders were holidaying during the ski season.
During August we experienced a bizarre incident when a suicidal driver caused over $100,000 damage to our hangar. Fortunately the driver received only minor injuries but we don't expect our hangar to be repaired until February 2021. In August and October we had two huge fires at Pukaki Downs and Lake Ohau. Bookings look good from Boxing Day onwards so come and support us in these trying times. We look forward to flying you!
With the arrival of COVID-19 in New Zealand, the country shut its borders and we went into Alert Level Four. This meant we were not allowed to fly for seven weeks - our last flight being on 22 March. It wasn't until 14 May that we could operate again. During the lockdown, Chris painted the hangar floor, set up the hangar workshop and improved the new office displays.
Going forward, Aviaton Adventures will continue to operate the best-priced one-hour glacier flight in New Zealand. Because we operate a personal service, you don't have to worry about flying with strangers - it's just you and the pilot! To book your flight for between one and three people, phone us now on 0800 733 228
Despite the cooler and windier summer, Aviation Adventures is tracking towards another record season. We have flown to some spectacular new locations, including the Landsborough Valley and the upper reaches of the Murchison Glacier.
Also proving popular are visiting photographers. On one recent mountain flight in the Cessna, where we opened up the side window for an unobstructed view, the photographer described the aircraft as far superior to a helicopter - and a lot less expensive!
During late January Chris flew Fish and Game staff on a low-level survey of South Island lakes counting paradise ducks and swans.
Over winter Aviation Adventures completed building its new hangar on the section we own at 1 Harry Wigley Drive, Pukaki Airport. The hangar is large enough to house our Grumman Ag-Cat biplane and Cessna 172, as well as having a large office and live-in accommodation. We anticipate having the new office and reception area completed in November.
Spring has been cold so far but when the weather has been more settled we have done some spectacular flights over the Southern Alps and glaciers.
Aviation Adventures Ltd celebrated its 10th anniversary as a company on 15 April 2019.
March and April 2019 turned out to be record months with settled weather, particularly at the start of April. The good weather made up for the wetter periods we had compared with last summer.
Over winter we will be operating on a regular basis for those who have booked ahead.
A highlight of December was flying Elise Chrystal and her Dad Gregor on a biplane flight. For the last four Christmases, Elise has waved to us as our biplane flew over her holiday home in Twizel. Chris suggested a good age to be for her first flight was seven and so, on her seventh birthday, Elise reminded her parents! It was a dream come true for Elise who has decorated her bedroom with a biplane theme.
Feedback from customers has been fantastic with many describing their flight over the glaciers as the best thing they have done in their lives!
Aviation Adventures started its 10th season on 5 September and we were busy right from day one with the "shoulder" season seeing an increase in tourist numbers.
September turned out to be another record month and October is shaping up to be just as busy so we suggest clients book ahead if possible. The weather has generally been frosty first thing but sunny most days with little rain.
The mountains look superb at this time of year and there are lots of icebergs in Tasman Lake.
January was a huge month for us and we flew more passengers than any previous month. Greg Bayliss and Peter Finnegan helped out at busy times.
This month saw the start of our hangar build with profiles going in on Friday 16 February. The hangar will be large enough to house both the Ag-Cat and the Cessna aircraft, as well as having accommodation and a large office.
November is normally the windiest month of the year so it was a big surprise to have anticyclones over the South Island for much of the month. The excellent flying weather resulted in us having our best month of operations ever with many happy customers! Both the Ag-Cat and Cessna were kept busy doing flights to Mt Cook and the glaciers.
One new highlight of the glacier flights is seeing the new icebergs in Tasman Lake which broke off from the snout of the Tasman Glacier at the start of the month. Come and fly with us to check them out!
We have had a great start to the 2017/18 flying season with record numbers of visitors.
With plenty of snow in the highcountry, the glaciers and mountains are looking fantastic. Hopefully the extra snow will slow the glacial retreat. Lake Tasman is a different colour this year due to less sediment in the water.
Our biplane is proving as popular as ever for those wanting to fly in an open-cockpit aircraft wearing leather jackets. Come and join us!
The 2016/17 flying season was our busiest yet, particularly with the addition of the Cessna 172.
We also explored a number of new areas to fly, including the Douglas Neve in Westland National Park.
Throughout winter we will be flying the Ag-Cat once a month and the Cessna is available for flights by prior booking. The new season begins in September.
During November we purchased new headsets for the Cessna so everyone can hear the in-flight commentary. On 19 November, we had our busiest day of operations with two flights to Mt Cook in the Cessna and six local flights in the biplane. In all, we flew 18 passengers, including a tour group from Spain.
In January 2017, Greg Bayliss joined the team as a pilot flying the Cessna. Greg use to fly skiplanes and has considerable experience flying in the mountains.
February was our busiest month since we started operations in 2009.
On 22 September, we launched out new glacierflights.com website to promote glacier flights in either our Grumman Ag-Cat biplane or the Cessna 172N. On 14 October, new roadside signs arrived and we received a full sign-off by the CAA to operate the new aircraft on Air Transport Operations.
On 30 October we did our inaugural commercial flight in the Cessna with father and son James and Tom Duffy from Christchurch with the Big Three option over the Tasman, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. On the second flight we took Australians Emily and Catherine Hutchinson over the Glenmary Glacier.