Almost summer

The last weekend in October gave us the best weather in a long, long time in Wellington. Just longer than a month after the Spring Equinox, the beaches were packed and it seemed like every Wellingtonian was out doing something. Including this one.

My wife and I went out to Lyall Bay beach for a walk, and of course it is adjacent to Wellington Airport. While we were walking I saw departures of RNZAF Hercules and NH90 plus the arrival of “some kind of business jet” that I could not identify from where I was.

At the conclusion of our walk, I drove over to the airport just in time to capture the arrival of what I guessed was the same NH90 I had seen depart earlier. It turns out, it wasn’t the same one, but more on that in a moment. Here is NZ3303 creating its own heat haze to add to that of the warm Wellington day.


Whilst capturing the NH90, I noticed a small jet sitting outside the RNZAF Air Movements hangar and determined it to be an RAAF machine. I was not wrong, as when I nipped around to the other end of the apron, I found Bombardier Challenger CL604, A37-033.


On my way around the apron I also spotted this gorgeous Cessna 182RG Skylane, ZK-ETX.


I also FINALLY caught an all-white DHC-8-Q300, VH-SBW (no relation to the All Black with the same initials) which is operating for Jetstar.


Finally, when heading back to the car near the Aero Club, I spotted this gorgeous machine – Piper PA-46 Malibu, VH-BHR.

Please note this image was taken with my iPhone 8, so is not up to my usual quality standards. It was so close to the fence and I only had my 55-300mm lens with me.

It was while ogling this that I spotted Rodney and had a quick chat with him. He told me that the previously departed NH90 was a different machine and that I had missed a RNZAF 757 departure, too. He suggested all the military activity was likely related to Exercise Southern Katipo which is occurring in the Marlborough region, just across the water.

One final thing I’d like to say is that over the last week or so I have changed the size of images that I upload to Flickr. For a while now, they have been limited to 2.7 megapixels, which usually resulted in something about 2000 pixels across the long side on a regularly framed image. At this size, I was finding that my images didn’t look their best on an iPad and were quite obviously less than their best on large screens like that on my iMac 5K. Now I’ve upped my standard size to 3200 pixels on the long side. Most images will now look a lot crisper on high definition displays as a result. Square images will be enormous! Note that a handful of images will be less than this size as a result of the original not having enough pixels to offer, usually as a result of tight cropping.

Catching up

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything new here – three months. But my camera has not been idle. In fact, I’ve upgraded my camera, but these shots below are from the old one. You’ll have to wait until I have the chance to train the new one on some TTF (Things That Fly – although…)

These shots cover three trips to Wellington Airport, though all within the space of less than a week in early August.

Friday 4th August was a bit of a miserable day, as these two photos show. The shadows cast on Wellington Aero Club’s Piper PA-38 Tomahawks, ZK-WAC and ZK-TAW, suggest some bright weather, but the sodden tarmac and the rainbow in the background suggest otherwise.


The weather is a bit more obvious in this shot of Mount Cook Airline’s ATR72-500, ZK-MCX, and Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NER (along with photo-bomber ZK-TAW).


Roll forward to Saturday 5th August and the weather was a whole different affair, as seen here with Air Nelson DHC-8 Q300, ZK-NEE, lifting off into the blue sky, with the blue Cook Strait behind looking reasonably calm.


It was also a grand day out for those who took the Wellington Aero Club Nanchang CJ-6, ZK-MAO, aloft.


Come Wednesday 9th August, the weather had closed in again. It is winter, after all.

Mount Cook Airline’s ATR-72-600, ZK-MVH, wades through the puddles en route to the terminal, with Rescue 5 crossing in the foreground.


Finally, this was the first time I have been on hand in the terminal for an arrival of Singapore Airlines’ Singapore-Canberra-Wellington service. Here you can see Boeing 777-200ER, 9V-SRP, a moment before touchdown.


All of the photos from these three days can be seen over on Flickr.

New Year

With this being the last day of my “holiday” I decided the sunshine was a good reason to head out to Wellington Airport for my first visit of 2017, and just in time to watch the Singapore Airlines 777 landing again.

Notwithstanding some blustery wind, the conditions were great for photography and netted me another 14 photos for my Wellington Airport album on Flickr.

First and last in my images, Piper PA-32 Saratoga, ZK-ZIG, of Golden Bay Air, arrived and departed via the main passenger terminal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere other than the western apron before. All of my photos today came out super clear – so much so I reckon I could sell this photo to the lady in 1A!


The main event, as it were. This time arriving from the south into the stiff northerly. I like how this shot turned out because there’s just enough of the seawall, the Moa Point rocks and the sea, plus a tiny glimpse of Pencarrow Head, so any local will instantly know where it was taken. Today’s service for Singapore Airlines was operated by Boeing 777-200LR, 9V-SQN.


This little beauty snuck up on me so I was very happy my quick snap turned out OK, even if I did end up with a 1/2000″ shutter speed and a stopped prop! This is a 1955 model Cessna 172, ZK-MGR. It is relatively new to New Zealand, having been registered just a couple of years ago to a Blenheim address. All of its previous life, since 1956, was lived in the USA, where it was converted to a Lycoming engine and a Hartzell propeller added.


I just had to capture this scene. Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXI (which I actually had not photographed before), was pushed back alongside the Singapore Airlines 777, showing just what a size difference there is between the two. That A320 is quite a bit closer than the 777!


A pleasing study of Virgin Australia’s 737-800, VH-YIJ as it departed RWY34. While I often try to remove or minimise fences in my photos, this time I decided just to own it.


And finally, my most photographed A320, Air New Zealand’s ZK-OAB, rotates on RWY34. This time I minimised the fence. I could have got rid of that strainer in the corner, but the barbed wire crosses the whole bottom of the photo. Hey, you didn’t even notice until I pointed it out, did you?


And finally finally, a little bonus. This is a quick snap I took of the progress in building Wellington’s new control tower, which is (curiously) located in the carpark of the adjacent retail centre. I was looking at it from near the runway tunnel today and thinking it looks an awfully long way back from the tarmac. I don’t know how much higher it will get, but the view of the apron directly in front of the western hangars can’t be great. This photo is taken looking roughly north, with Tirangi Road to the left.

There are another eight photos over on Flickr if you’d like to go take a look.


I went out to Wellington Airport again today with the express purpose of photographing a Jetstar DHC-8 Q300 which have so far eluded me.


Job done! I’d sussed the timetable beforehand and noted one was due from Nelson at 11:20. It was only after I’d made it to the airport around 11:00 that I suddenly thought about Jetstar’s reputation for timeliness! Fortunately, it was within minutes of schedule.

It was quite blustery but there was a fair amount of GA traffic about including Wellington Aero Club‘s Cessna 172, ZK-FLT and two of their Piper Tomahawks, ZK-WAC and ZK-TAW pictured here passing over the field – something both Tomahawks did in succession.


There was plenty of other Jetstar traffic, too. Another Q300 had departed right as I arrived (before I was camera-ready) and an interesting A320 had arrived. More on that in a bit. Meanwhile, here’s VH-VGT wearing a mismatched nose cone.


It’s often interesting to observe how the GA traffic mixes in with the commercial with this next situation being somewhat unusual to my knowledge. Aero Club Cessna 172, ZK-FLT, spent quite some time sitting at the hold point for RWY34. So much so that Air New Zealand Airbus A320, ZK-OXE, used taxiway Alpha 9 instead of the usual Alpha 10 or 11, and then proceeded to backtrack on the runway to obtain the full length.


Finally, here’s the Jetstar A320 which had landed just as I arrived. VH-VFV sports a rather large advertisement for Sunglass Hut on both sides. Not your usual fare for special livery but it’s at least slightly less boring.


These are just a sampling of the 25 images I have uploaded today (out of a total 160 shot!)