South Island Trip In A Cessna 172

South Island Trip In A Cessna 172

I've Just come back from the most incredible journey in "Johnny" my Cessna 172.

It was a 5 day journey that went like this.....

Day 1

We departed Hamilton and were stopped shortly after at Wanganui to refuel. Johnny burns 35 litres of fuel per hour and carries 160 litres. We cruised south along the coast to Kapiti Island and then headed over Cook Straight to Marlborough Sounds. Crossing Cook Straight was a bit hairy but we all used the same frequency on the radio and guided each other over. Good team work. Landed at Motueka and stay the night, enjoy a nice southern pub meal. About 2.5 hours flying today.

Day 2

Depart Motueka. Fly over Farewell Spit and French Pass, two major features of the top of the South Island. Head down the West Coast and land in Greymouth to refuel. Depart Greymouth and climb to 12,000 feet heading to Mt Cook. 12,000 feet is friggen high and about -10 degs. Some people can require oxygen at this height because the air is so thin, and hypoxia is a high risk so need to be careful. I circled the peak of Mt Cook within 100m then headed to Queenstown. As a private pilot, its a big deal to land at an international airport like Queenstown, a major milestone in any pilots career. It was awesome! Park the planes at Qtown and have dinner washed down by a cols Speights at Cardrona pub. Its about 3 hours from the top of the South Island to Queesntown that includes a bit of mucking around sightseeing.

Day 3

We wanted to go to Milford Sounds early, but -5 degs and the engine oil was frozen like ice cream, so Johnny didnt start until lunchtime. One picture you can see an icicle hanging off the wing. I grabbed a bottle of water to pour on the windscreen but it was frozen solid. We got the birds going at lunchtime and the air traffic controller taxied me to a holding point about to go on the runway. Suddenly, Johnnny started shaking. I look over and see an Airbus A320 holding next to me. I look up at the pilot who was looking back down at me. I give him the “whats up” nod and he smiles and waves back at me. We both knew who had the bigger plane, except he was working and I could fly wherever I wanted! I flew around Mt Aspiring at 10,000 feet then onto Milford Sounds. Not everyone can land here, you need permission from DOC which we had. So we were very lucky. Its very narrow to fly through the gorge which made it challenging and exciting. The runway is set in the most scenic landscape I have ever seen. Stunning! From here we flew past the Sutherland falls - NZs highest waterfall. Its also where Tom Cruise filmed a Mission Impossible film. Back to Queenstown.

Day 4

Queenstown to Blenheim. Flew passed Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier. We were cruising at about 100 knots which is about 185kmh. At one point we were doing 225kmh with a slight tailwind.

Day 5

Blenheim to Hamilton. We took off from Blenheim (Omaka) and headed out to sea. Fog engulfed us so we had to do a “you-ee” and go back. The air traffic controller guided us through a gap in the fog and over the hills to clear sky. The trip over Cook Straight was smooth as a babies bum. Christchurch airport watches us cross the Straight to make sure we get to the other side. We let them know on radio when we make it across. We land in Wanganui to refuel again and only an hour to Hamilton.

Overall an incredible trip with a great bunch of guys & garls. Id like to say "once in a lifetime" but I have no doubt Ill do it again. Where shall we go next, hmmmm.

Jeff Kerwin

Phone: 0800 337 426
Email: [email protected]

South Island Trip In A Cessna 172

Jeffs June Journey 2020


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