Queenstown is renowned as a destination for world-class food and wine, a never-ending supply of adventure and adrenaline activities and more jaw-dropping scenery than you can poke a stick at.
But did you know that Queenstown Airport is also world-famous?
What can we say? In Queenstown, not even the airport is ordinary. In May 2015, the mountainous approach into Queenstown International Airport was voted ‘World’s Most Scenic Airport Landing’ by international private jet booking service Private.Fly.
A panel of experts compiled a short list of the planet’s most impressive airport approaches and asked international travel experts to cast their vote for the very best. Queenstown Airport took out the top spot against some tough competition like Las Vegas, Nice Cote D’Azur, and Cape Town.
Given Queenstown Airport’s reputation as a premium destination, it’s no surprise you’ll find a few private jets parked on the runway. In recent years, Queenstown Airport has had to expand its private jet facilities to cater to growing demand.
THE HISTORYOF QUEENSTOWN AIRPORT
Queenstown Airport was first licensed in August 1935, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that commercial flights became commonplace. The popularity of Milford Sound drove the increase in commercial scenic flights from the popular tourist destination. Regular services to other domestic destinations soon followed.
In 1990, the runway was extended to allow airliners to land, and in 1995 the first international flight from Queenstown took off for Sydney. In 2011 new lights were installed at the airport allowing aircraft to land outside daylight hours.
Queenstown International Airport is now New Zealand’s fourth busiest airport and is also one of Australasia’s fastest growing airports. It is New Zealand’s busiest helicopter base.
DON’T LET A FEW BUMPS STOP YOU
The approach into Queenstown takes you through the mountainous ranges of the Southern Alps. While the scenery is spectacular, it can sometimes make for a bumpy arrival. You’ll spot the locals on the flight who don’t flinch through a few good bounces or when the mighty Remarkables suddenly appears looming large out the window. Any nerves are quickly appeased by the stunning spectacle that is flying over Lake Wakatipu or the Crown Terrace towards Queenstown Airport.
THE BUZZ OF QUEENSTOWN AIRPORT
Landing at Queenstown Airport it’s hard not to feel the buzz – quite literally – in the air. Queenstown Airport is the busy base for helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft ‘flightseeing’ trips around the region. On a clear day, a steady procession of light planes and helicopters make their way to world-famous sites like Milford Sound and Mount Cook.
WHAT’S NEW AT QUEENSTOWN AIRPORT
If it’s been a while since you flew into Queenstown, you’ll notice a few improvements to the facilities at the busy airport. A new international terminal opened in winter 2015, doubling the size of the airport’s international operations.
Inside the terminal, a newly renovated café and bar area sits alongside a few new shops like Kapa Gift Shop and The Remarkable Sweet Shop. The addition of the Manaia premium lounge and TravelPharm pharmacy gives passengers more options while waiting for flights.
The airport car park was recently expanded and now offers a streamlined system for passenger drop-offs and arrivals.
Back in 2007, three impressive figures made their mark on Queenstown Airport. Located outside the terminal, three striking figures welcome those arriving into, or farewell those departing, Queenstown. In a sculpture by local artist, Mark Hill, the Māori figures represent the mana of local iwi.
QUEENSTOWN AIRPORT – THE FACTS
- Queenstown International airport is located in Frankton, just 10 minutes from central Queenstown and most of the town’s accommodation.
- Queenstown Airport services a number of domestic routes, as well as trans-Tasman services from major east coast ports in Australia.
- For those coming in from other international destinations, connections to Queenstown can be made with flights arriving into Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington.
- This July, Queenstown Airport saw 149,000 passengers come through the gates, all on their way to enjoy school holiday breaks and snow adventures. 62,000 of those passengers were international visitors.
- This year, Queenstown Airport has carried around 1.4 million passengers, that’s an increase of 200,000 passengers from the same time last year.