A plane is 29 times more likely to overshoot the runway at Wellington Airport than at Auckland, the High Court in Wellington has been told.

Virgin plane landing in Wellington Airport.A plane lands at Wellington Airport earlier in 2015.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The New Zealand Airline Pilots’ Association has gone to court asking for long safety margins at the end of the runway if the Wellington Airport company goes ahead with plans to extend it 300m into Cook Strait to the south so it can accommodate long haul passenger planes from Asia. The proposal still needs to be approved.

The scheme will cost $300 million and there are fears adding a 240m safety margin would be uneconomic.

But pilots’ counsel Hugh Rennie, QC, rejected those arguments.

“The moment you start saying safety will be whatever you can justify on a cost benefit analysis, there are many, many examples,” Mr Rennie said.

“You might not put signs on bridges because no one ever goes off the edge of them, you might go for cheaper buildings. The objective across the whole thing is the safety objective.”

Wellington Airport after a radar fault grounded planes on 23 June 2015.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

No aircraft had overrun Wellington runway since the 1960s but Mr Rennie said if it happened again, the results could be tragic.

Landing a plane in Wellington was hard enough already, given the challenges posed by the weather and the terrain, and the chance of an overshoot was 29 times greater than in Auckland.

“Wellington Airport is widely considered by pilots to be a very challenging airport for a number of reasons including strong gusty and unpredictable wind conditions, surrounding high terrain, its relatively short single runway, and the particular hazards at either end of the runway, the drop into Cobham Drive to the north, and the steep drop into Lyall Bay to the south.”

Mr Rennie said the runway extension would not be long enough, and the pilots were asking the High Court for an order for a special safety area to be put on the end. This should be 240m long, and the pilots wanted the court to rule that this was required by law.

An alternative could be an equivalent solution such as crushable concrete.

Part 139 of the Civil Aviation Rules said a safety strip must extend to a distance of at least 90m and, if practicable, to a distance of at least 240m from the end of the runway strip.

Mr Rennie said the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was letting the airport go ahead with the runway extension, without extending the safety area.

However, safety had to be maintained; cardboard crash barriers were not used on motorways because proper ones were too expensive, he said.

There needed to be clarity about what the law said on safety zones, and the finding of the court would become a precedent which applied to other New Zealand airport.


Moa Point road flooding at the weekend. Twitter photo from Lyall Bay/Blaize Larsen-Beecroft

Wellington Airport warned this morning that the Moa Point road was closed again because of big swells. It had been reopened for less than 24 hours after similar problems over the weekend.

Wellington.Scoop – June 15
Wellington Airport advised that the Moa Point road was still closed this morning because of large swells. The city council issued a similar warning, saying clean-up efforts as well as big waves were responsible for the continuing closure, which left only one route to the airport.

The road was reopened at 4pm today after being closed since 2pm on Sunday.

The NZ Herald this morning reports on the huge waves which hit Wellington’s south coast yesterday.

It says part of the road at Owhiro Bay was closed by the waves. And it reports that big swells are also expected today.

Ian Apperley: Council has its head in the sand about sea surges

All the locals new it was coming. Sunday dawned bright and early and I was writing the first blog of the week I could see the salt spray drifting across the airport. A quick check showed that a massive storm system was sending waves north, coupled with a high-tide, was always going to result in more chaos around the South Coast.

And come it did.

For the fifth time this year.

Residents were very lucky that we didn’t get the usual wind and storm pattern that we have with a southerly, which could have pushed the surge up into people’s properties all along the coast. It amazes me that they haven’t rioted about the lack of action, or rather, lack of result that the Council has made with coastal defences.

A lot of new seawalls have gone in, however, they are being smashed at a rate of knots already and even the most recent walls are failing in high surge conditions. Island Bay remains broken after the last major storm, walls all around Eastern Suburbs have failed, been replaced, have failed, and have been replaced. Owhiro Bay has been smashed. Lyall Bay is consistently smashed.

It is getting worse. My fortieth saw the largest storm I have ever experienced, waves in the straight of up to forty feet while the South Coast got hammered with twenty five to thirty foot monsters. It is happening more and more, there can be no doubt.

You have to wonder why we keep building the same sea walls and not thinking of alternative ways of protecting the coast, don’t you?

Well, here is part of the reason. The WCC is far more interested in reducing greenhouse emissions in an effort to save us from Climate Change, than it is actually protecting us from what is inevitably happening.

I don’t care why you think Climate Change is occurring, that can be debated all day long, and I don’t care what you think about emissions, fact is, it’s smart not to fill up the atmosphere with pollutants regardless of its impact.

However, what is absolutely true is that unless the Council starts building sea defence systems then we can kiss the South Coast goodbye.

From the Dominion Post today (abridged)

Part of the road around Wellington’s south coast remains closed as the mayor warns the coastal roads are under threat as an increasing number of storm surges pummel them.

Celia Wade-Brown made the warning on Monday, as the road from Lyall Bay to Moa Point remained closed after boulders were washed onto it on Sunday.

Wade-Brown said that, while waves washing over south coast roads had occurred before, it was becoming increasingly common as a direct impact of climate change.

While roads were not at risk of washing away in the next five to 10 years, it could happen eventually if the problem was not solved, she said.

Ummm… She hasn’t driven around the South Coast then. Part of the road in Karaka Bays, Breaker Bay, Moa Point, and Seatoun have been lost more than once. We went weeks with a single lane in some places early in the year. They aren’t going to last ten years, they’re not lasting ten months.

The council had reduced its own greenhouse gas emissions to 2001 levels while Wellington had reduced emissions by 20 percent since 2006.

While this is admirable, it won’t help this situation, nor will it for decades. We are on an escalating Climate Change path and it will get worst, before it gets better.

There were a range of solutions, such as sand dunes and sea walls, which were already being placed in some places.

But even areas such as at Owhiro and Princess bays, where new walls were installed, they could still be breached.

Owhiro Bay’s new sea wall had “waves coming right over the top” on Sunday.

Then it would seem to me that the measures that are being put in place are inadequate and more should be done to investigate would actually work. This is a common problem internationally and there are a variety of ways to solve it.

Perhaps, the Council, instead of thinking they are the experts on literally everything, could find some actual experts.

Central Government needed to reduce greenhouse emissions, but if the climate change issue was not solved it would be ratepayers that ended up carrying the cost of repairs, Wade-Brown said.

Here is the head in the sand statement bottled with a slap at Government and a dose of personal ideology. It insuates that this is someone else’s problem to solve, that someone being Government, and because they aren’t doing enough to tackle emissions, we are all going to have to pay. Naughty.

The council was also undertaking computer modelling to look at rain fall and the stormwater system so that any infrastructure upgrades would work.

The modelling would also give the council ideas where work to protect coastal roads was needed.

I can tell them that. It will take me ten seconds, a map, and a highlighter.

By the way, if you need a good laugh, read the comments on that article. It’s hilarious. And a wee bit sad.

The WCC has tagged hundreds of millions for vanity projects over the next decade and in comparison, nothing for infrastructure or sea defense. Their head is firmly buried in the ever receding sand and they need a reality check. Perhaps we could get them to live in Moa Point for a few months so they can see the water pouring through their front gardens, edging closer every time.

It’s not good enough.

Large swells, coinciding with a high tide, have washed rocks and debris onto the road on Wellington’s South Coast.

The city council was warning people to stay away from the area this afternoon.The city council was warning people to stay away from the area this afternoon.

Photo: Scott George

The Wellington City Council said some of the waves had crossed the road and entered properties.

MetService forecaster Nick Zachar said the four metre waves were being generated by a low pressure system to the South East of the country.

“We do have southerly swells of three and a half metres in Cook Strait and maximum wave height of about five metres or so, so it is a downward trend from about now.”

The tides washed up rocks near Wellington Airport.The tides washed up rocks near Wellington Airport.

Photo: Wellington City Council

The road between the eastern end of Lyall Bay to Moa Point Road is closed and the airport tunnel is partially flooded.

Front of house staff member at Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay, Anna Brimer, said the waves had washed over the roads.

She said although the sea hit the building the cafe is in there had not been any damage.

The waves closed the road between the eastern end of Lyall Bay to Moa Point Road.The waves closed the road between the eastern end of Lyall Bay to Moa Point Road.

Photo: Stephen Lynch

Police said the swells were also affecting the Wairarapa coast and Cape Palliser road was closed.

Last month swells that were up to nine metres high off the Wellington coast forced the closure of Moa Point Road to the airport and Owhiro Bay Parade after sand, seaweed, driftwood and rocks were flung from the surf.

The road near Wellington airport.The road near Wellington airport.

Photo: Wellington City Council

A Lyall Bay carpark awash with sea water.A Lyall Bay carpark awash with sea water.

Photo: Twitter/ @lyallbaynz

big wave on south coast

Photo: Wellington City Council

Some took advantage of the big swell.Some took advantage of the big swell.

Photo: Stephen Lynch


For a great video, go to the original link.

Large swells creating massive waves in Lyall Bay Wellington caught one couple out.

Heavy swells and big waves have battered Wellington’s south coast, causing ferry cancellations, washing rocks on to a car park and soaking anyone who ventured too close to the surf.

The rough conditions in Cook Strait forced the cancellation of Tuesday’s 2.45pm sailing of Interislander ferry Aratere from Wellington to Picton. Passengers and their vehicles were transferred to later sailings.

An hour before the Aratere was due to depart, the Kaitaki set sail from Picton, with passengers warned to hold on for bumpy ride.

Heavy swells in Cook Strait have forced the cancellation of some sailing of the Interislander ferries.

People with young children were told to hang on to them and keep them close, passenger Patsy Sziranyi said on arrival in Wellington on Tuesday night.

Experienced sailor Christine Rentoul said there were a “few decent” waves and the boat was moving around a bit. “I loved it, but there were a few people looking a bit green.”

The big swells are forecast to continue on the eastern side of Cook Strait for the next few days, and KiwiRail would advise if they reached cancellation levels again, a spokeswoman said.
Xander Kavanagh gets a drenching near Wellington Airport on Tuesday.
Robert Kitchin/Fairfax NZ

Xander Kavanagh gets a drenching near Wellington Airport on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the waves washed rocks on to a car park on Wellington’s south coast car park, breaking an airport warning buoy loose, and drenching onlookers.

Wellington Airport spokesman Greg Thomas said the large marker buoy, used to warn tall ships away from the southern flight path, broke free on Tuesday morning as waves estimated at six metres high slammed into the coast.

The buoy, which sat three metres above the water and a “considerable amount below”, washed up on Lyall Bay, where it was salvaged, he said. The airport was investigating how and why it had come loose.
Wellington Airport’s marker buoy is retrieved from the surf at Lyall Bay after breaking its moorings.

Wellington Airport’s marker buoy is retrieved from the surf at Lyall Bay after breaking its moorings.

It was designed to handle larger swells, and was attached to the sea floor by an engineered rubber rope, he said.
Ad Feedback

At Moa Point Rd, beside the runway, waves were making their way through the seawall and sending plumes of spray up through grates and on to the other side of the road.

The waves were also washing rocks on to a car park at the eastern end of Lyall Bay.

Wellington City Council said it was keeping a watch on south coast roads, and warned it would close them on Tuesday night if the high tide made them too dangerous for motorists.

James Grigg, who co-administers the Lyall Bay Facebook page, said damaging swells were becoming increasingly common.

Monday’s swells were larger than Tuesday’s and were undermining a car park at the eastern end of the bay. “It’s bringing up quite a bit of rubble.”

For surfer Dan Clarke, the big waves were an opportunity not to be missed. He jumped in the surf from a rock sea wall, timing his entry between waves.

“It’s wild, it’s messy, there’s a lot of movement in the ocean, but it’s great fun.”

At one point his surfboard leg rope was yanked off and he had to swim near to a rock wall to get his board back. But he had no regrets about getting in.

“It’s fun. I love it. We want big swells.”

MetService meteorologist Emma Blades said the swells, had been generated by a deep low off the east of the country, which had also created the cold, snowy conditions over the past two days.

The swells were expected to ease from Wednesday morning.