New Zealand’s First International Airport Opened – 16th December 1950

On 16th December 1950, on Canterbury’s 100th anniversary of settlement, a newly redeveloped Christchurch Airport become New Zealand’s first International airport. The first trans-Tasman flight took place the following year.

Firstly known as the Harewood Airport, the first 230 hectares were purchased by the C.C.C. off the Boag Family – the land still being a part of their Burnside property – in 1935. With the construction of a 915 metre runway, it was the first civic-owned airport in the Southern Hemisphere. The first terminal was opened on 18th May 1940.

When WWII broke out across the world, the Elementary Flying Training School opened on site and many of New Zealand’s combat airmen were trained there. With many not returning from the war, Burnside Avenue in 1959 – being the main road to and from the airport – was renamed to Memorial Avenue in their honour.

With the U.S. Navy using Christchurch as their base for their Antarctica flights and with an increase in commercial flights, the runway was extended to 2442 metres in 1962. In 1984, a further 845 metres was added on. Because of Canterbury’s infamous nor-west wind, Christchurch has two perpendicular runways with an extra grass landing strip for smaller private aircrafts.

With the increase of business, Christchurch International Airport has increased in land mass and undergone many additions and upgrades. It is New Zealand’s second busiest airport and only one of two that can cater to Boeing 747’s and 777’s. There are roughly about 900 domestic flights in and out every week

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