For those that know Air New Zealand well, will know that have a website called Grabaseat. (www.grabaseat.co.nz) Every day between about 4-10 routes (mostly domestic, with the occasional international ) fare is offered at below usual price for a one week period on certain dates.
However, in the lead up to Christmas they also have another special promotion called the 12 days of Christmas. So 12 days till Christmas, there are $12 fares, 11th day, there are $11 fares, right down to... Yes, You guessed it $1 fares. (including all taxes)
I had been particularly interested in grabbing flights from the airports closest to me (TRG, ROT, or WHK) which offer flights to AKL, WLG & CHC on Beech 1900D, Dash 8 or ATR72 turboprops depending on route. Or otherwise flights from AKL (about 2 hours drive) to the South Island tourist haven of Queenstown (ZQN) or southern city of Dunedin (DUD) on B733/A320
After getting several of these "cheapies" before, I knew I had to be quick, and hang on website , sometimes for hours waiting for the fares to go from "try back later this morning/afternoon" to being able to book.
After the 12 days I had ended up booking 3 return trips from WHK-AKL-WHK, TRG-WLG-TRG & ROT-WLG-ROT for $8 return , $22 return & $10 return respectively . With the $8 fee for using a credit card on top of that, I was all ready to go . Seems as though the "our fares have nothing to hide" promo has long gone out the window, as Air NZ now have a $10 charge to take a checked bag on domestic flights and a $4 credit card fee for each domestic one way sector. 2 of these bookings would be day trips and one would be an overnighter
The day started earlier than usual for me, and we left around 9:30am for the drive to WHK. The day was not the best for flying being very overcast and spitting with rain but it improved as we neared Whakatane. We arrived at the airport at 11.00am (45 mins prior to departure) and parked right outside the terminal which has unlimited free parking (oh how I wish all airports were like this. The joys of small regional airports eh?). The very unusually shaped building was designed by Roger Walker and built in the 1970's. It has a simple check in counter and waiting area off to the side. There is no cafe or other facilities except for bathrooms and an upstairs viewing deck. Baggage reclaim consists of a trolley brought round into the side of the carpark area.
WHK serves flights from Auckland (AKL) 3x daily and seasonally to Wellington (WLG) 1x daily, and strangely due to the weather I overheard a conversation about an AKL-GIS flight which had to be diverted to WHK that morning due to the fog in Gisborne.
The arriving aircraft touched down early at 11.25am, and was quickly turned around and re-fueled and we were invited to board at 11.35am. NZ Aviation law does not require aircraft with fewer than 90 seats to have security screening, thus all routes operated by Beech 1900D, Dash 8 & ATR72 do not have any screening whatsoever, so after boarding passes being checked, we were straight out onto the tarmac and onto the aircraft.
An automated voice recording (no video or demonstration) was played indicating the safety features of the aircraft.
Odd terminal building
Just turned onto the active
Turning around at the end of the runway
Start of the take-off run
Up in the air!
Whale Island just off the coast (Looks more like a turtle though)
Part of Whakatane township over the river, Coastlands at the bottom and Ohope Beach over the other side of the heads
Up above the clouds. There is a reason the Maori translation of Aotearoa (New Zealand) means “Land Of The Long White Cloud”
NZ fleet. Today we are the smallest of NZ’s fleet operated by Eagle Airways with 19 passenger seats
There are no cabin crew onboard the Beech 1900D’s, and so no snacks or beverages are served on this short hop to AKL
I decided to take a look at the lavatory, but it was far to small to even stand up in let alone take any half decent photos. One thing I found strange was that it had a slide door
A small break in the clouds with the town of Omokoroa down below
The NZ Beech 1900D’s have no doors separating the passenger cabin from the cockpit
Starting our descent into AKL
Down through the clouds
Taken out the right hand side. You can see the Auckland Airport vicinity as the bit of land poking out of the harbour
Auckland CBD high-rises in the center
Touchdown; AKL international terminal behind
AKL domestic terminal
All Blacks A320 ZK-OAB
Parked up at the gate
Spotting at the observation deck. EK 77W A6-ECD just arrived from DXB via BNE; NZ A320 ZK-OJM ; LA A343 CC-CQE arrived from SYD and later bound for SCL & QF A332 VH-EBL bound for LAX
I apologise in advance for the lack of photos on these sectors. I had an aisle seat for the first flight and was very tired on the return after a late night the previous night
Being dropped at TRG. The yellow building is what the terminal consists of
Mt Tongariro (No snow at this time of year)
The offerings on todays flight. Firstly Takaka spring water, followed by tea/ coffee and a biscuit and Air New Zealand’s famous lollies before landing
Saturday 17th March 2012
Wellington (WLG) - Tauranga (TRG)
Scheduled Departure: 1:20pm
Actual Departure: 1:26pm
Scheduled Arrival: 2:30pm
Actual Arrival: 2:32pm
Flight Duration (Scheduled) 1:10
Flight Duration (Actual) 1:06
Distance 228nm / 263mi / 423km
Seat: Economy 11A
9th Bombardier Dash 8 flight
32nd NZ flight
1st flight on ZK-NED
1st WLG-TRG flight
After a couple of hours at WLG, and paying rip off airport prices for some lunch ($11 NZD for an orange juice and sausage roll) Orange juice alone was $6.50, when you can buy it in the supermarket for $2
Wellington suburbs of Newlands and Johnsonville
The northern reaches of Wellington Suburbs (Titahi Bay, Whitby & Mana)
Wanganui/ Whanganui underneath the clouds. The city with the controversial “H”
Heading to the active. Houses on the hill fighting for the best view
ZK-OJR starting its take-off roll
(Sorry for the blurry shot) WLG “Wild at Heart” terminal building
And it gave way to one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever encountered!
Wellington down below, and the top of the South Island at the top of the image
New edition of Kia Ora for the month of April
“Welcome to Rotorua”
ROT terminal building. There was heavy advertisement of the NZ 2x weekly A320 ROT-SYD service
Overall these were as expected domestic hops. The offerings and service were average ,but what else can you expect? It would be nice though to be offered something a little more substantial to differentiate themselves from other carriers, but the LCC way Air New Zealand is going, I doubt that will ever happen.
palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 4, posted (1 year 8 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4361 times:
Hi there - very nice report and thanks for sharing with us.
I really loved the sunset photos as well - great catch.
I was also interested to read about your flights on the B1900D. I am due to fly with Air Canada Express on the B1900D in September and although I've been on a B1900D before, that was an evening flight, so am looking forward to flying during the day time with them - I remember how loud they were, but great fun to fly in!
Nice idea that NZ have regarding those promotional fares.
Good to see some pics from Rotorua as well - I was there in 1987 on a school trip (from Australia) and remember how strong the sulphur smell was from all the bubbling mud and hot springs in the area.
They certainly are very interesting aircraft. They are both a very common aircraft type for me though living in regional New Zealand
Quoting palmjet (Reply 4): Hi there - very nice report and thanks for sharing with us.
Quoting palmjet (Reply 4): I was also interested to read about your flights on the B1900D. I am due to fly with Air Canada Express on the B1900D in September and although I've been on a B1900D before, that was an evening flight, so am looking forward to flying during the day time with them - I remember how loud they were, but great fun to fly in!
They are very noisy aircraft! its very noticable on them compared to other aircraft. Enjoy your flight on the 1900D!
Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 5): Your report looks great but I'm reeling at photobucket's bandwidth issues! Upgrade for a month so I can see your photos, they sound good!
Looking forward to checking back once the photos are fixed
Sorry, should all be fixed now. Hope you enjoy the photos!
I wasn't even alive in 1988, but I'm sure it would have been the same as today, security is still non-existent in Taupo. Can walk straight from the car park onto a Beech 1900 without any check at all.
lukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1071 posts, RR: 32 Reply 13, posted (1 year 7 months 3 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 3000 times:
Great little report. NZ has to be one of the most amazing countries to fly around domestically, and I love ANZ for the fact that they operate some of the most enormous, and smallest, aircraft in the industry.
With all this 'Grabaseat' function, I am likely to do some domestic hops next time I am in NZ.