Airport location study consultation

Submissions closed on 01 July 2022, 04:30 PM

Airport location study image.

We asked people to tell us what they think of four possible options for the future of an airport in the Whangārei District.

This consultation closed on 1 July 2022.

The four options were:

  • Ruatangata West (Site 6)
  • Ruatangata (Site 9)
  • One Tree Point West (Site 24a)
  • Continue to operate from Onerahi 

Consultation Document(PDF, 6MB)

Further background reports

Guide to the new information(PDF, 436KB)

Council decision

Council has confirmed that it will further investigate Site 9 at Ruatangata, near Kōkopu Road, as its preferred location for a future Whangārei District airport.

Council agreed that there were factors outside its control that meant domestic passenger services at the existing Onerahi Airport could be at risk in future and that the best way to provide certainty for the District was to protect a suitable new site for a future airport, if needed.

You can read more about the decision on the following project page. 

Airport Location Study

Consultation period extended to 1 July 2022

On Thursday 26 May 2022 Councillors decided unanimously to extend the consultation period on the Whangārei Airport Location Study by five weeks, to 1 July 2022, and to publish further background reports on the project.

The decision was prompted by many requests from the community for more information and an extension to the consultation period. All Councillors supported the move. 

People who made submissions by the original 25 May 2022 closing date have been informed.

All who registered an interest in being kept up to date at drop-in sessions in May will be contacted to inform them of the decision. 

Council has also made documents relating to the consultation available here. 

Why are we looking at this now?

We need to plan now for the future of air transport access.

A new airport for Whangārei will be Aotearoa New Zealand’s first District airport in 50 years.

Infrastructure of this importance requires long-term planning to make certain any commitments we make are tailored to our region and are flexible enough to cope with the emerging needs of the aviation sector for the next 50 years.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Transport, mana whenua and our stakeholders to coordinate our thinking, share information and make certain we deliver an outcome that supports the long-term growth of Whangārei and Northland.



A study was commissioned as part of Council’s long-term planning to manage the District’s growth and secure future air transport access for the region. Council investigated several options, including reclaiming land to extend the runways at Onerahi or shifting the airport across the harbour to the Port Nikau area.

Neither of these locations met the long-term aviation needs of the District, largely because of hills jutting into flight paths or because the works would have been prohibitively expensive.

A decision was made to investigate other sites for a potential airport.

2015 to 2017

Council formed the Mana whenua Advisory Group of representatives, appointed by Te Huinga. It also formed a Project Advisory Group including representatives from Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), Northland Regional Council, Air New Zealand, Northland Inc, Chamber of Commerce and others with a particular interest in the project.

Information gathered in previous investigations, including a study from 1999, and ongoing engagement resulted in a longlist of potential airport locations. A comprehensive analysis was undertaken to identify sites that might be flat enough, large enough and have open approach paths.

A list of 28 new sites was identified, each of which was assessed according to multiple criteria.


The study of options was updated to respond to changes in government policy and ongoing engagement and analysis.


Council purchased property in Ruatangata because it came onto the market after Council had reduced its shortlist to three preferred sites. 2022


Council is continuing to engage with mana whenua, partners and stakeholders, and is undertaking a consultation in accordance with the special consultative procedure to seek public feedback on four options. Council will then decide which site to investigate further, or whether to continue using the Onerahi site.

Next steps (after consultation)


26 July 2022

After the consultation period has closed, Council will hear anyone who wants to speak in support of their submission.

Council hearing video (

Council agenda



9 August 2022

Council will deliberate on the matters raised in the reports, submissions and hearings. 

Council briefing agenda

Council briefing minutes

Council briefing presentation

Decision on option selection

24 August 2022

Council will select which site is to be investigated further or whether to continue using the Onerahi site.

Council meeting agenda

Council meeting video (

Formal planning and design

August 2022 – 2030s

If Council decides to select Options 1, 2, or 3, there will be early engagement with landowners and any other affected parties. Further work will be undertaken to understand both broad and specific effects of an airport at the proposed site.

Further statutory public consultation will take place as part of a designation process for the land, and there will be an opportunity for the public to make submissions and be heard by decision makers.

Several years of work would be needed to design ownership models for the operation, government contributions for funding and / or ownership, and if a decision is made for the project go ahead, the airport’s design and construction.

Further background reports

These reports were added on 1 June 2022.

The four location options

We have identified three preferred potential new sites, alongside the option to remain at the existing site in Onerahi. 

Map of Option 1: Ruatangata West (Site 6)

Map of Option 2: Ruatangata (Site 9)

Map of Option 3: One Tree Point West (Site 24a)

Map of Option 4: Existing site at Onerahi

In addition to the three potential new sites, it is also an option to continue to operate from the current Onerahi site.

This site has been considered in the past and would require us to continue to work with the Civil Aviation Authority to retain dispensations that currently allow it to operate, accepting that if these dispensations end, the airport may have to cease some future commercial operations. 

Graphic map showing Airport Option 4: Onerahi.

View a larger map(PNG, 227KB)

Map of Approach Paths

This map shows the general approach paths that aeroplanes could take coming into or leaving an airport.

The paths (coloured fan areas) are only shown from above.  If illustrated from the side they would have a similar profile – high at their furthest point from the runway, coming down to ground level at the runway.

Please allow the map some time to load fully.

View GIS map of approach paths (

The project study areas in these maps have been identified through a series of desktop studies and investigations. Further technical assessments are needed before a final location, its details and land requirement can be confirmed.

Correction notice

We have identified a discrepancy in the indicative One Tree Point West (site 24a) flight approach map, which was displayed at the information event at the Ruakākā Recreation Centre on 2 May 2022 and has been available online.

The flight approach pathway used on this supporting map was based off an earlier runway alignment, which has progressed since these earlier investigations. This means that while the general alignment for aeroplanes landing and taking off has not changed, it is slightly southward from what was shown.

We have since updated the map for our events at Ruatangata Hall on 5 May 2022 and Forum North on 12 May 2022, and updated this online version. A slight adjustment has also been made to the indicative Ruatangata West (site 6) flight approach map. Its important to note that this discrepancy does not change the footprint of the potential aerodrome site shared in the consultation document, and that further technical assessments are needed before a final location, its details and land requirements can be confirmed. 

Things to think about

Considerations for potential new sites

Each site has strengths and weaknesses, things that we know about, and factors that need to be considered. Through consultation, we want to examine and find out more about these sites.

We have considered at least these things to qualify these locations as potential sites for the airport:

  • a site’s ability to meets CAA rules and operational requirements
  • if an airport and airport precinct can be safely operated from the site
  • the location of sites of cultural, heritage and ecological significance
  • the locations of nearby schools, community facilities, freight hubs and major infrastructure
  • the infrastructure or engineering that would be needed to make the site suitable for development
  • how the airport would integrate with future development and growth
  • access to and from the site and how it will connect with existing and future transport networks
  • alignment with government policy, including economic investment and transport.