Milford Sound Airport NZMF

NZMF - Milford sound

Milford Sound Airport NZMF

By, Sky Keene, aviation writer

Milford Airport NZMF, is a airport tucked in a valley between high mountains located in Milford Sound, Southland, New Zealand, and serves the Milford Tourism Industry including Boats, Kayaks, Milford Track as well as the fishing boats based on Milford Sound.

The Milford Sound Airport (IATA: MFN, ICAO: NZMF) is a small but very busy with many flights and has an asphalt runway 2565 ft (792 meters) in length operated and managed by the ministry of Transport by the Government of New Zealand.

On 17 November 1938, a Southland Airway’s Puss Moth piloted by Arthur Bradshaw made the first landing in at Milford Sound. However, any further development for air operations into the Fiord was delayed by World War II.

Post war pilot Fred ‘Popeye’ Lucas was the next to land an aircraft in Milford. He landed on the sand spit in his Southern Scenic Airtrips Auster on 22 August 1951. This then sparked the addition of an airstrip for use by his company to expand tourism into Milford Sound. An airstrip was constructed, initially 1650 feet  in length with the first official landing achieved in May, 1952.

Over the years the airstrip has been upgraded and lengthened in order for Southern Scenic Airtrips and National Airways Corporation to be able to fly the larger twin engine aircraft into the airstrip and the airport became officially licensed in 1956 by the New Zealand Ministry of Transport.

Milford Sound, Prior to the time of air operations, had no access in the winter months because the roads were impassable. By 1964, because of the addition of the airstrip there were more than 400 tourists recorded each month who took flight into Milford Sound at peak holiday time.

Weather permitting, there is substantial daily charter traffic of light aircraft mostly Britten-Norman Islander, Cessna 172, 206, 207, GA8 Airvan back and forth from Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau on sightseeing trips. There are Helicopters tours available too.

The approach to Milford sound is quite unique and beautiful. One can see down the valley between the high mountains on each side to the rising peaks at the other end which seems to rise to the halo in the clouds and often snow covered. One may be tempted to think of Shangri-La or “Bali-hi” tunes in the South Pacific movie years ago.

Still on approach one can look down upon the many fish in the sea. I have heard comments that you can see forever when you look into the deep blue sea there. Perhaps you can see sharks feeding or a whale or two, perhaps a school of the many other types of aquatic animals known to swim around Milford Sound.

Milford Airport NZMF, located in Milford Sound, Southland, New Zealand, indeed a Shangri-La or “Bali-hi”, a place in which one could close their eyes and envision a vivid dream of flying into Paradise…


By, Sky Keene, aviation writer

Staff writer for: 20th Century Aviation Magazine





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