New Zealand Flying Adventure
With a family visit to the South Island of New Zealand coming up I was keen to do some flying as well - just to keep things spiced up a little!
I made lots of phone calls from Tasmania to see what was available to hire and also the New Zealand License requirements for visiting Australian pilots.
I managed to find a friendly bunch at the Gore Aero Club, to the north of Invercargill on the southern part of the South Island.
They had a Cessna 172 for $180 per hour wet or a Rans S6 for $100 per hour wet.
As the cruise speeds were close we chose the Rans.
Well, more to the point, it's a tail wheel aircraft, much more fun to fly and with the best visibility cockpit. With only 50 hours on the clock it was a no brainer for me !
While the synoptic looked good for the coming Monday for Stewart Island, I had to get a check flight in first and it wasn't looking real good. I managed to coax CFI Brad out on Friday for the check flight, where we managed it in 500 ft cloud base, light rain and average visibility.
Interestingly the dual rate for the check flight was the same as the hire rate as Brad volunteers his services.
We got permission and briefings on the strip at Stewart Island as it is private and atop a hill overlooking town.
It has strong wind gradient and sink on the 24 approach (prevailing) , a bit like our St Helen's only worse.
The $40 landing fee includes a wild cab ride into town and also the return to the plane.
Next we organised a charter to nab some famous Blue Cod and waited for monday to arrive. They got the forecast right and after a final brief from Invergargill tower with variable winds and no Notams we were off. Two ten litre cans of fuel behind the seat were thrown in just in case and we headed across the Islands in perfectly smooth air.
The High Peaks of Stewart Island stood out above the clouds and apart from letting out the Air Ambulance before we joined the circut the whole flight was uneventful. We crossed at 4500 ft and were within glide of dry land by flying over Ruapuke Island .
Our cab dropped us in town and we walked to Half Moon Bay for our boat pick up. We were dropped off on Ulva island for a two hour walk with some interesting bird life. Scientists are using the Island to breed endangered species and some of the birds come right up to you if you clap your hands 3 times. Didn't believe it at first but it worked.
Back on the boat we got into some serious fishing , hauling in Blue Cod at a great rate till we had filled our quota. Gill landed a good sized Barracouda just to show off. The weather was starting to close in a bit from the west so we grabbed our 6 kg of filleted cod and braved the cab ride back to our plane.
Some of the hills to the west of Invercargill had disappeared in cloud so we wasted no time in preflighting and crossing the Strait back to Gore. I went lower this time to try and evade the headwind and kept tabs on the bluff oyster boats on their second day of working the new oyster season.
The wind was calm and we met John Ibbotson at the clubhouse to settle the account. The last mission was to eat Blue Cod and spread the spoils among the family.
A requirement of hiring the plane was that I was a club member so I am now a proud member of the Gore Aero Club and look forward to returning to NZ with a new adventure to fly .
John Ph: 208-6966 or 027 632 5856 or
Peter Ph: 208-1948 or 027 433 9828