Air Kaikoura busy with new service connecting the two ends of the district
The distance between Clarence and Kaikoura has felt enormous since the November earthquake but a new flight path is helping link the communities.
Air Kaikoura set up the service, flying between Kaikoura and Parikawa, on December 4 and it is proving incredibly popular, according to manager Murray Hamilton.
"We have just bought a new three-seater aircraft to be put on that run," he said.
"But we will be able to take 11 people once all our aircraft are up and running."
The 15-minute flight is even easier than the previous 40-minute drive, and is the only way to connect both ends of the district, other than by boat.
The North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance also see it as an essential service and will be supplying a 'terminal', or portacabin, and portaloo for travellers.
Hamilton said he was also grateful to the Parikawa Trust which owns the land for allowing the use of the new "airport".
Plans for signage could increase the use of the service, and Hamilton said he hoped to encourage tourists to get back into Kaikoura, perhaps meeting a shuttle from Blenheim.
Other plans included looking into having a car for people to rent at Parikawa.
"It would be great if we could get a dealership involved so we could leave a car there and people could use it to get up to Blenheim."
Air Kaikoura had been consistently busy since the earthquake, Hamilton said, but this was predominantly with tourists.
The new service was important as it helped the northern end of the district to feel connected with their own community, and was particularly busy on a Monday and Friday with people getting to Kaikoura to work for the week
"It's really important that they feel more connected to the Kaikoura community.
"It's been great for our relationships with the local community from a club perspective...we have even had more people wanting to learn to fly."
As an incorporated society the club was always looking for potential members, Hamilton said.
- Kaikoura Star