OUR STORY

EST. 1992

Family owned and operated for over 30 years.

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 is founded

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

Expanding operations

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

Doubling the fleet

The fleet doubles with the purchase of a Piper PA32-300 Cherokee Six.

1997

Lord of the Rings filming

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

Queenstown Airport office is built

Glenorchy Air establishes its base within the Queenstown Airport terminal. This continues to serve as our hub to this day. Come visit us today!

2001

ZK-LOR is purchased

Gippsaero GA8 ZK-LOR is purchased. It was the first brand new aircraft to arrive on the flight scene in Queenstown since 1975.

2003

ZK-JRR joins the fleet

A second brand new Gippsaero GA8 Airvan, ZK-JRR,  joins the Glenorchy Air fleet.

2013

ZK-ZEA joins the fleet

Glenorchy Air added its third Gippsaero GA8 Airvan, ZK-ZEA, to the fleet in April 2015.

2015

Under New Ownership

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

Welcome ZK-JTK

Glenorchy Air purchased a brand new Cessna 206 Stationair HD from Cessna in Kansas, USA. This beautiful and modern machine arrived in Queenstown in December 2019.

2019

Welcome ZK-MMZ

Cessna custom build a 208B Grand Caravan Ex for Glenorchy Air, ZK-MMZ. It arrived in Queenstown in September 2020. It was flown from Merced, California across the Pacific to its final destination in Queenstown.

2020

Welcome ZK-PPR

Cessna custom build a second 208B Grand Caravan Ex for Glenorchy Air, ZK-PPR. It arrived in Queenstown in November 2021. It was also expertly flown from Merced, California across the Pacific to its final destination in Queenstown.

2021

Welcome ZK-KDK

Our latest addition to the fleet is a 2020 Daher Kodiak 100 Series II. It will be expertly flown from the United States across the Pacific to its final destination in Queenstown and we expect it will be operational by the end of October 2023

2023
Professional, Knowledgable, Local
Modern, Safe, Premium

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