Airport Review: Queenstown, New Zealand

I'd rather get a few A320 movements in amongst some of the most stunning scenery in the world as opposed to side on 767 shots all day long.

That's the photographer coming out in me.

Queenstown Airport, New Zealand

So what are the spotting location options?

Morning

If Runway 23 is in use, drive down Glenda Drive, at the end go onto the dirt road and go left. You can park the car and walk about 300m until you are under the flight path. 24mm-200mm - depending on what kind of shot you are after.

Alternatively you can go up the Remarkables and get aircraft arriving with the Shotover River underneath. Whilst you're here it's also a good opportunity to get airport overview photos/ terminal shots. You will need non full frame camera with 400mm lens.

A320 arriving at ZQN Runway 23

A320 flaring over ZQN Runway 23

A320 arriving for RWY23

A320 departing ZQN

2x A320 departing ZQN

If Runway 05 is in use you can stand at the end of the Runway perimeter fence on Kawarau Rd, Frankton. Nice bonus if your making some friends or the other half tag along with you. Get them to stand under the flight path and feel the rush as they come into land.

2x A320 departing ZQN

Afternoon

This is when the opportunities really start to present themselves.

On the Western side of the airport it's pretty much unrestricted access the whole length of the runway. The fence is about 5m back from the gable markers so you're right in the thick of the action.

A ladder is handy but I wouldn't say neccessary.

If aircraft are arriving on Runway 23 head down to end of the Glenda Drive. Here there are two spots that stand out. To left of the dirt road there is a small enbankment that allows you to get slightly elevated above the fence line. The other spot is almost directly in a straight line from Glenda Drive to the fence. There is a large pile of rock boulders that provide good elevation points.
Virgin Australia ZQN Runway 23

Virgin Australia ZQN Runway 23

Air New Zealand ZK-OAB ZQN Runway 23

If aircraft are departing off either Runway 23 or 05 my favourite spot is Grant Rd. I stood on top of fence post, took a lot of skill and balance. Alternatively there are large paddocks with sheep in them that offer excellent opportunities. Being a little bit further back actually is better in this case as it gives you a chance to get more of the scenery in the photo.

Air New Zealand ZK-OXC departing ZQN Runway 05

Virgin Australia ZK-PBK departing ZQN Runway 05

Jetstar VH-VQS departing ZQN Runway 05

Virgin Australia arriving ZQN runway 23

Virgin Australia arriving ZQN runway 23

ZK-OXA on departure

Jetstar departing ZQN runway 23

Air New Zealand departing ZQN runway 23

The afternoon is best for spotting. There is a peak period of about 2 hours when there are numerous jets on the ground at once. This airport is really accessible for spotters with great scenery to boot. Make sure you get a Fergburger for lunch, you won't be disappointed!

Airport Rating

9/10