The future development of the Queenstown and Wanaka airports is currently at a community consultation phase. This is taking the form of an online survey and community meetings in both Queenstown and Wanaka to ascertain what key stakeholders and community organizations see as priorities.
A key reason for this planning is the unprecedented growth of passenger numbers over the past 5 years. Since 2005 passenger numbers have increased from 600,000 to close to 2 million. At the forefront of the planning is the sustainability of increased growth of these numbers, not only on the airport infrastructure but on the communities of the region.
The airport is the main gateway into the southern south island where the central lakes region is a major tourist attraction. Visitors, residents and visitors rely on this airport which is the fourth largest in New Zealand. It does not seem that long ago that it was merely a shed.
The airport is co-owned by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and Auckland International Airport. Wanaka airport was recently brought in under this structure, by Queenstown airport being granted a long term lease of Wanaka airport. Wanaka airport also made a significant land acquisition adjoining the airport to futureproof any growth strategy.
Three main options have been evaluated. They included further development of the Queenstown airport, moving the Queenstown airport and co-development of both the Queenstown and Wanaka airports. Plans on how to expand the existing Queenstown airport facilities and utilise the Wanaka airport are the main focus of the master plan document which is presented for consultation. Here is a link to the consultation document.
Key benefits of the expanded hours of service at the Queenstown airport have been the ability for business people to attend meetings in Auckland in a day, as well as the arrival of late night flights from Australia. Weekend excursions and short breaks are now a reality.
The Wanaka airport has recently appointed a manager with significant experience in airport management and development.
The Queenstown and Wanaka region has the future in its sights for both the resident community and visitors when it comes to planning for the future of the airport which is reassuring for the vision for the region.