New Zealand’s Alpine Airline

Mount Cook Airline was an innovative carrier that championed its home region and pioneered glacier flying before taking up a more modest role operating ATR 72s under the Air New Zealand banner. Peter Morath charts its fascinating history.

Hawker Siddeley HS.748, ZK-MCJ (c/n 1661), backtracks down Runway 31 at Mount Cook Airport. The propliner is dwarfed by the 10,338ft (3,151m) tall Mount Sefton.

Fine scenery is one of New Zealand’s main attributes, and no other regional airline has done more to bring this to the attention of overseas tourists than Mount Cook Airline. Now a subsidiary of Air New Zealand, the carrier began operating in 1961 but its origins can be traced much further back.

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