Established in 1992, Glenorchy Air was founded by Robert and Janet Rutherford. At the time, the stunning road from Queenstown to Glenorchy was unsealed, making it not as accessible as it is today. They saw an opportunity to begin an operation there and once the road was sealed six years later, focus shifted to our base at Queenstown Airport, which we still occupy today. Glenorchy Air has been operated as a true Family business from day one, with the entire Rutherford family being involved in the business through the years.
We’ve evolved over our 30 years of operation. We’ve grown from a single aircraft in 1992 to a fleet size of 5 in 2017. Glenorchy Air was the first Queenstown-based company to operate the GA8 Airvan in 2003 and use of this aircraft is now widespread for sightseeing tours in New Zealand and abroad. In 1999, when filming for Lord of the Rings started, Glenorchy Air flew production crew and actors, memorably Sir Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen, around the region as well as transporting film and carrying out location reconnaissance. Our fleet today consists of 5 carefully selected and custom built aircraft, all purposefully built for sightseeing.
In July 2019, James Stokes took to the helm at Glenorchy Air. James is a Queenstown local who is incredibly passionate about aviation and our beautiful region. He has flown for Glenorchy Air since 2015 and before purchasing the business, was the company’s Training Captain and Flight Examiner. James is a CAA certificated Airline Flight Examiner with years of mountain flying experience and has a strong background in flight instruction of both private and commercial pilots, all gained in the local area. It is a dream come true for James to own and operate his own scenic flight business in Queenstown.
All of Glenorchy Air’s pilots are trained and assessed to the highest standards of competence and safety by James and our other highly experienced operational instructors, who have thousands of hours in the mountains of Central Otago and Fiordland. Our Pilots and Ground staff are all highly skilled and experienced locals with an excellent standard of customer service. We love where we live and where we work.
Glenorchy Air was established as a family-owned and operated business by Robert and Janet Rutherford in November at 1992. Named after Glenorchy, a beautiful township at the head of Lake Wakatipu, they operated one Cessna 185C Skywagon, ZK-CHK.1992
Operations expanded to locations all across the South Island, including Taiaroa Head at the end of the Otago Peninsula where passengers would visit the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins.1994
The fleet doubles with the purchase of a Piper PA32-300 Cherokee Six.1997
When filming for Lord of the Rings was taking place, Glenorchy Air transported members of the cast and crew and film equipment. This included producer Barrie Osbourne and actor Sir Ian McKellen.1999
Gippsaero GA8 ZK-LOR is purchased. It was the first brand new aircraft to arrive on the flight scene in Queenstown since 1975.2003
A second brand new Gippsaero GA8 Airvan, ZK-JRR, joins the Glenorchy Air fleet.2013
Glenorchy Air added its third Gippsaero GA8 Airvan, ZK-ZEA, to the fleet in April 2015.2015
On 1 July 2019, James Stokes, a pilot of Glenorchy Air since 2015, purchased the company. The company underwent a modern rebranding, which included purchasing a brand new fleet of transfer vans for complimentary pickups, custom branding on our aircraft and a complete renovation of our kiosk inside Queenstown Airport.2019