Glenorchy Air

Glenorchy Air is a scenic flight and air charter company based at Queenstown Airport, New Zealand. The company was founded by Janet and Robert Rutherford in 1992, with just one aeroplane, a Cessna 185.[2] With the expansion of the business, a second aircraft, a Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, was purchased in 1996. The Cessna 185 was sold in 2003 when it was replaced by a new Gippsland GA8 Airvan. The company took delivery of a second Airvan in 2013[3] and a third replaced the Cherokee Six in 2015. In 2017 Glenorchy Air purchased a fourth GA8, taking the fleet number to five, including a Cessna 172.[citation needed] A GA8 was sold in May 2020 to Air Kaikoura.

Glenorchy Air
IATA ICAO Callsign
AOC #AOC 38167
HubsQueenstown, New Zealand
AllianceMount Cook Skiplanes and Helicopters, Southern Discoveries, Glacier Explorers
Fleet size5
DestinationsMilford Sound, Mount Cook, Mt Aspiring, Glentanner, Fox Glacier, Stewart Island
Parent companyStokes Aviation
HeadquartersQueenstown Airport, Queenstown, New Zealand.
Key peopleJames Stokes (Training Manager/Managing Director)[1]

The business was purchased in July 2019 by its training manager, James Stokes, and remains family-owned and operated.[4] In August 2019, Glenorchy Air announced that a new Cessna 206 would join its fleet, expanding its flight options to Mount Cook and other destinations.[5] The arrival of the 206 allowed the 172 to leave the fleet. In December 2019 Glenorchy Air announced the addition of a brand new Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX to its fleet. This aircraft arrived in Queenstown November 2020.[6] The company slogan is Discover Milford Sound and Beyond.


Glenorchy Air operates scenic flights between Queenstown and Milford Sound[7] as well as several activity options at Mount Cook, and glacier flights. Flights operate from Queenstown or from Glenorchy on demand. Charter flights are also available to anywhere in New Zealand.[8] Day trips from Queenstown to Stewart Island started in November 2020 and take 2.15 hours.[9]

Glenorchy Air Gippsland Aeronautics GA 8 Airvan on the ground at Milford Airfield

Lord of the Rings involvement

Glenorchy Air became involved in the making of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in 1999 when it transported members of the cast, crew and equipment around the southern half of the South Island of New Zealand. This included flying producer Barrie Osbourne on reconnaissance trips to Paradise, Poolburn and Ben Ohau.[10][11]

Fuel efficiency research

In 2010 Glenorchy Air was one of eight companies that took part in research to determine optimum fuel efficiency. The research was of the New Zealand Tourism Energy Efficiency Programme, which was a partnership between the Tourism Industry Association and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Glenorchy Air installed technology which showed how much fuel its aircraft were burning on a litres-per-hour basis. It also installed GPS technology to inform pilots of their ground speed. This enabled them to determine the optimum altitude for fuel savings.[12]


The Glenorchy Air fleet consists of the following aircraft:[13]

Aircraft Number
Gippsland GA8 3
Cessna 206 1
Cessna 208B 1

See also


  1. Fairfax NZ News (5 June 2008). "Airport readies for night flights". Southland Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  2. "Our Story". Glenorchy Air. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  3. "Flight company receives 2nd GA8 Airvan". Otago Daily Times. 13 August 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
  7. Dodgshun, Joe (24 January 2012). "Off to Milford Sound for a paddle". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  8. "Heavy snow strands tourists – Glenorchy Air to the rescue". Southland Times. 15 July 2006. Archived from the original on 9 November 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  10. BROOKE, JAMES (22 December 2002). "A Long Journey Rewarded". New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  11. The Frodo Franchise, Kirstin Thompson (2007), Penguin Books, pp285-286 and p288.
  12. Tourist airlines polish up on fuel efficiency, Shane Cowlishaw, Southland Times, 26 March 2010
  13. "Glenorchy Air Fleet". Retrieved 9 November 2020.