Evening flights into Queenstown provide more opportunities for locals and visitors, but realising this ambition presents some exciting challenges.

Queenstown Airport is located in a uniquely stunning place, framed by the Remarkables Mountains and Lake Wakatipu. But what makes it so stunning also makes it one of the most challenging places in the world for airplane pilots to land.

Visitor numbers to the Queenstown region are constantly growing, with this growth putting pressure on Queenstown Airport’s infrastructure. While the airport had consent to operate from 6am through to 10pm, aircraft operations were not permitted after twilight due to the risks of flying through mountainous terrain and potential cross-wind conditions. The solution to allow the airport to run evening flights needed the development and implementation of an in-depth risk assessment and safety case. Approval for operating evening flights was granted in 2014.

Queenstown Airport wanted to begin welcoming evening flights in winter 2016. We helped make this happen by designing and managing the runway widening (from 30m to 45m) while operations continued during the day – an unheralded task in New Zealand. We also helped with the installation of new airfield lighting that’ll help pilots to land safely at night, two key elements of the safety case.

The airport decided to overlay the runway to provide additional strength for the predicted growth in aircraft traffic. We were able to do this work by taking advantage of the longer nightly construction window when the airport was closed, before the evening flights began.


2016 Highly commended at the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia NZ Excellence Awards, Best Public Works Project Over $5M


Width of widened runway

6 Months

To complete the work


Value of project

Queenstown Airport Runway Widening [and Overlay] - Aerial View
Queenstown Airport Runway Widening [and Overlay] - Boosting regional tourism with evening flights
Queenstown Airport Runway Widening [and Overlay] - Aerial View

Our Team Says

Our design tackled the challenges of sensitive soils; the rutting runway pavement and the complex geometry of the runway surface. All parties entered into the spirit of the Team Charter, providing huge benefits from health and safety to constructability innovations.

Tristan Hughes

Technical Director – Airport Engineering

Our Client Says

The upgrades will give us a more robust, durable runway in all weather and enable us to host evening flights in and out of Queenstown. The additional infrastructure and on-board technology required to fly in darkness will enhance the airport’s overall safety and efficiency of operations both day and night.

Mike Clay

QAC General Manager of Operations, Queenstown Airport Corporation

Our People

Richard Holyoake

Market Lead - Aviation

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Tristan Hughes

Technical Director - Airport Engineering

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Wharehuia Dixon

Senior Associate - Civil Engineering / Te Kaiwhakatere

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