Kapiti Coast Airport

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Kapiti Coast Airport
Airport overhead.jpg
Aerial view of Kapiti Coast Airport looking towards Paraparaumu Beach
Airport type Attended, Uncontrolled, Certificated Aerodrome
Location Paraparaumu, Greater Wellington region
Elevation AMSL 7 m / 22 ft
Coordinates 40°54′17″S 174°59′21″E / 40.90472°S 174.98917°E / -40.90472; 174.98917Coordinates: 40°54′17″S 174°59′21″E / 40.90472°S 174.98917°E / -40.90472; 174.98917
PPQ is located in North Island
Location of airport in the North Island
Direction Length Surface
m ft
16L/34R 1,307 4,288 Bitumen
16R/34L 537 1,671 Grass
11/29 644 2,112 Bitumen

Kapiti Coast Airport (IATA: PPQ, ICAO: NZPP), earlier called Paraparaumu Airport, is on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand's North Island, between the Wellington dormitory suburbs of Paraparaumu Beach (to the west and north), Paraparaumu to the east, and Raumati Beach to the south. The Wharemauku Stream flows through part of the airport's land.

Originally government-owned, the Kapiti Coast Airport was the greater Wellington region's main airport until Wellington International Airport re-opened in 1959. It was privatised in 1995.


Constructed by the Royal New Zealand Air Force in July 1939 using equipment from Whenuapai,[1] Paraparaumu was made available as an "Emergency Airport" by the government. The then-grass Rongotai Airport in Wellington was closed for safety reasons from 27 September 1947 until 1959,[2] as the surface often became unusable during winter months. National Airways Corporation was forced to move to Paraparaumu Airport, 35 miles from Wellington, causing a one-third drop in Cook Strait passengers for NAC in a single year, due to the isolation. Nonetheless, Paraparaumu was the country's busiest airport in 1949, with up to 20 DC-3s and Lodestars lined up on its apron.

The original runway dimensions were (16/34) 1350 m x 45 m with an 85 m starter extension available on runway 16, nearly touching Kapiti Road, which runs past the aerodrome. At that time, the secondary runway (11/29) was 1239 m x 30 m.

Paraparaumu was judged unsuitable for international operations in the 1950s due to Kapiti Island to the near west and the Tararua Ranges barely a mile east infringing the take-off and landing flightpaths. Housing areas were very close to the south and west of the airport, and since the mid-1980s to the north as well, directly across Kapiti Road.

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority has recently approved the airport after identifying approach obstruction issues. In the intervening years, aircraft performance and improvements in aircraft navigation systems render earlier concerns less critical.

From 1952 to 1957, Wellington unusually had two domestic airports: NAC running Herons from Rongotai (which CAA had agreed to reopen on strict conditions), mainly to Blenheim and Nelson, and to Rotorua via Napier, with everything else from Paraparaumu. When NAC introduced Viscounts in early 1958 they could operate to Christchurch and Auckland only, Paraparaumu's runway being about 300 m (980 ft) too short. The reconstructed and much improved Rongotai Airport opened in 1959, although its terminal remained the old Tiger Moth factory until the late 1990s, and Paraparaumu ceased being Wellington's main airport and became then a general aviation airfield.

The Kapiti Aero Club is based at the airport, along with other private fliers and charter businesses. The airport is a base for the New Zealand helicopter company Helipro, which offers both fixed-wing and helicopter flight training, charters, and other commercial services. Due to the relative infrequency of commercial flights, it is a popular base for private and leisure flights.


As recently as 1992, alternative sites for a new airport for Wellington were investigated, including Paraparaumu, but a decision was made to upgrade Wellington Airport's existing site.

Interest in providing commercial flights at Paraparaumu reignited[when?][citation needed] because the Kapiti coast is one of New Zealand's fastest growing regional centres. Many of Wellington's more affluent professionals and business people live at Paraparaumu and tolerate the hour-long commute for the lifestyle offered.

In early 2007, the airport was sold by its first private owners to property developer Sir Noel Robinson for NZ$40 million. Since then some of the airport's property has been sold to allow for residential development and part of the secondary runway 11/29 has been closed.

Re-development proposals involve closing 11/29, with a parallel grass runway as the only crosswind runway. A new multi-user terminal is intended for the southern area. This re-development was spurred by interest from Air New Zealand to operate Q300 aircraft. Planning hearings for airport redevelopment occurred in November 2007, with redevelopment completed in 2011 with the refurbishing of the runway and recommissioning of the control tower. The rising costs of Wellington Airport also contributed to Air New Zealand's initiative to schedule flights to Paraparaumu.

On 24 October 2011, Air Nelson, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, commenced flights between Auckland and Paraparaumu.[3] Flights to Christchurch also operated from November 2013 but ceased in February 2016.[4] All flights are operated with Bombardier Q300 50 seat aircraft. On 9 March 2018, Air New Zealand announced it was suspending its Kapiti Coast to Auckland service effective 3 April 2018 [5]. This ended Air New Zealand operations on the Kapiti Coast after 7 years.

On 29 March 2018, Air Chathams expressed an interest in starting up services to Auckland from Paraparaumu with one of its Saab 340, but the aircraft has potential performance restrictions that could cause disruptions with passenger off-loading. One solution has been proposed to operate a traffic light system north of the airport on Kapiti Road to momentarily halt traffic, but only when required for maximum performance take-off. Air Chathams estimated that, on average, the lights would be required about 10 times a week.[6]

On 2 July 2018, Air Chathams announced they would begin services to the Kapiti Coast starting from 20 August 2018, offering 36 flights per week using the Saab 340.[7]

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
Air Chathams Auckland[8]
Sounds Air Blenheim, Nelson

Accidents and incidents

In 1949 a Lockheed Lodestar from Whenuapai (Auckland) crashed into the Tararua Range. Paraparaumu Tower had cleared the aeroplane to fly under Visual Flight Rules when the cloud base was below 800 m and did not ascertain that the aeroplane turned east into the ranges instead of out to sea near Kapiti Island to line up with the main runway.[citation needed]

In 1952 a DC-3 experienced engine failure when about to land on Runway 34, and ploughed into a house in Kohutuhutu Rd, Raumati Beach. Three children on board died in the fire that followed (there were no flight attendants on domestic flights until 1956), but the captain helped everyone else to safety.[citation needed]

On 6 November 1970, Douglas C-47B ZK-AXS of the Ministry of Transport was damaged beyond economic repair during a downwind simulated takeoff,[9] when the undercarriage collapsed.[10] The aircraft was operating a training flight.[9] The fuselage was subsequently used for fire training purposes, and was last reported to be at Wellington.[10]

On 17 February 2008, above an adjacent hardware store, Placemakers, there was a triple-fatality mid-air collision between a Cessna 152 and a helicopter, both of which plummeted from approximately 1500 ft, the helicopter into the store and the plane into a nearby street. No one on the ground was injured.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Wartime RNZAF Stations". Cambridge Air Force.
  2. ^ [1] 11 September 1947 Flight Magazine
  3. ^ "Air New Zealand Paraparaumu-Auckland service takes off". 27 January 2012. Archived from the original on 10 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Air New Zealand drops Christchurch to Kapiti flights". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Air New Zealand suspends Kapiti Coast service". airnz.co.nz. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Air Chathams Seek Traffic Lights". beachfm. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Air Chathams will pick up Paraparaumu to Auckland flight route". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  8. ^ "Air Chathams will pick up Paraparaumu to Auckland flight route". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  9. ^ a b "ZK-AXS Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  10. ^ a b "Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota". Kiwi Aircraft images. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  11. ^ "Third man dead following mid-air crash". Television New Zealand. 2008-02-17.

External links

  • Kapiti Coast Airport
  • Kapiti Aero Club
  • New Zealand AIP - Aerodrome & Operational Data
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