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Hood Aerodrome Project

On 4 August 2021, Masterton District Council approved the masterplan developed for Hood Aerodrome.

This followed engagement with Hood users and operators, and the wider community. Read the Hood Aerodrome Masterplan 2021.

Development of the masterplan followed the announcement in 2020, by Finance Minister Grant Robertson of funding for Hood Aerodrome as part of the Government’s package to kick-start economies post COVID-19. The funding provides $10 million for infrastructure upgrades at the Aerodrome. Read the Shovel Ready Project Funding Application (PDF, 1MB) here.

The upgrade project has a total budget of $17 million and includes work to widen and extend the runway, including road realignments, lighting, electrical, water and wastewater upgrades, and additional security. As well as completing critical infrastructure upgrades, it is expected that this work will:

  • Increase the resilience of the Wairarapa community, especially in case of natural disasters in the region, and providing access for medical flights.
  • Ensure Hood Aerodrome has a safe and usable runway and facilities expected in regional airport.
  • Expand agricultural aircraft operations.
  • Provide space for commercial and non-commercial hangar development.
  • Provide space for an adventure aviation facility.
  • Allow new aviation-related businesses to operate from the Aerodrome.
  • Enable future commercial passenger and freight services.
  • Ensure continued capacity for hosting events, including Wings Over Wairarapa and the National Aerobatics Championships.
  • Ensure the aerodrome can meet long-term community needs.

The runway has had its condition assessed with minor remedial work to be completed. Sewer infrastructure upgrades have been done and more work is being done to increase security at the site.

Hood Masterplanning

Masterton District Council developed the masterplan for Hood Aerodrome to ensure it meets the needs of users and the wider community for at least the next 20 years. The aim was to develop an agreed master plan that allows future developments to be planned with confidence.

Development of the master plan provided an opportunity to incorporate input from the community and other stakeholders.  We held a community workshop on 10 May 2021 and have been in ongoing contact with aerodrome users, and affected landowners.

Download the presentation from that workshop (PDF, 2MB)

What do we want to achieve with the masterplan?

Included in future proposals for Hood Aerodrome are:

  • Lengthening and widening the runway – including runway end safety areas and realignment of Manaia Road
  • Reconfiguration of the grass runways to improve space utilisation
  • A safeguarded location for an aviation attraction and/or related commercial ventures
  • Additional paved aprons and taxiways
  • Safeguarding space for development of the terminal and related facilities
  • Safeguarding space for private and commercial hangar facilities
  • Space for growth of general aviation, including a flight school.

The masterplan will not detail precisely what developments happen in each part of the aerodrome, but will set out where such development should occur. The Council’s contract with MBIE’s Provincial Development Unit is for two stages of work. Detailed planning of the runway extension and road realignment is intended to be completed by June next year (2022), with physical work to follow.


The timeframe for finalisation of the master plan is:

  • Public engagement process on the draft master plan – 10 – 31 May
  • Internal review of draft master plan – 28 June – 6 July
  • Draft finalised for consideration by the Council – 7-23 July
  • Council adopts the master plan – 4 August
  • Masterplan published on Council website.

Summary of Submissions

A summary of feedback from the community workshop and other engagements is set out below around specific items and themes. 

Widening and lengthening the main runway (Runway 06-24)

  • Submissions and workshop comments, including several of those in opposition to aerodrome development in general, agreed widening of the runway was needed and would be beneficial. None of the submissions or comments received were specifically against widening the runway.
  • Support for lengthening the runway was limited, though several comments on the desire to attract a commercial airline and light freight movement capability were noted.
  • Opposition to lengthening the runway was received from exiting users, existing landowners and the general public. This was due to concerns about cost and economic viability, loss of the general aviation community at Hood, loss of private land, and concerns that the case to do so is not supported by evidence.
  • Support for lengthening the runway was received from some members of the public who were keen to see commercial airline operations from Masterton.

Grass cross runway (Runway 10-28)

  • There was opposition to relocating grass runway 10-28 in the comments and submissions, but several people indicated that some adjustment of position could work provided length and orientation of the runway remained unchanged, and thresholds did not intersect.
  • An alternative proposal to lengthen and pave Runway 10-28 to make this the primary runway was submitted by an existing aerodrome user and pilot. This submission was supported by Wings Over Wairarapa and four other submissions from existing airfield users.

Future land acquisition north-east of the airfield and diversion of Manaia Road

  • Several submissions were received relating to the acquisition of non-airfield land. Generally, the need for this was questioned. If a runway extension is progressed, the general preference was for a reduction of the speed limit to reduce impact on neighbouring land. The acquisition of land for council commercial development (e.g. hangars) was also questioned.
  • Clear communication of how land acquisition, rezoning and development would be done was sought, particularly for affected landowners.

Cost and economic viability

  • Several comments were received about cost and the economic viability of the future development of the airfield. There is a need for clarification about the purpose of the masterplan and how it fits with aerodrome development funding.

Protecting general aviation at Hood vs commercial flight operations

  • Submissions were received that focussed on protecting the aerodrome for General Aviation activities and maintaining (and developing) it as an easy-to-use facility that is focussed on open space and light aircraft operations. This includes not seeking significant commercial airline operations or CAA certification, and instead focusing on developing revenue through small scale and GA related activities.
  • Some support for enabling commercial airline services from Hood was noted through the workshop and online submissions.

Wings over Wairarapa

Several submissions commented on Wings Over Wairarapa and the need to maintain a viable air show, which includes sufficient open space for crowds and “high energy” safety areas.

Omissions from the draft masterplan layouts

Some submissions related to the omission of specific operations on the airfield on the proposed layouts. These include the SAR operations building and model aircraft club.

Masterplan Concepts

The following concept plans formed the basis of community engagement on development of the master plan.

Concept 1

Base plan layout – this is what is achievable with the minimum recommended runway changes and land acquisition:

  • Keeps Manaia Road open without changes to vehicle routes through residential areas.
  • Uses minimal land to divert Manaia Road around proposed runway extension
  • Excludes development south of the runway – this protects the existing Wings over Wairarapa high energy zone (safety area).
  • Relocates the grass runway to create additional public viewing area for Wings and protect the open character of the existing airfield.
  • Places the attractions area centrally on the airfield as a focal point.
  • The area available immediately for new hangar developments is more limited.
  • Due to the limiting effect of Manaia Road, development potential is limited beyond 20 years, or if rapid growth occurs.
Masterplan 5

Concept 2

Development South of the runway – this provides additional benefits but requires changes to Wings operations.

  • Keeps Manaia Road open without changes to vehicle routes through residential areas, as per the Masterplan Layout.
  • Requires changes to the way Wings operates to free up land for development south of the airfield – these changes would be subject to a thorough safety review and CAA acceptance.
  • Relocates the grass runway to create additional public viewing area for Wings over Wairarapa and protect the open character of the existing airfield.
  • Relocates the attractions area to the southern side of the runway – closer to the grass runways and open grass area, creating a focal point for vintage aircraft operations.
  • Makes available immediately existing airfield land that could be used for new hangar development, while safeguarding space centrally on the airfield for attractions.
  • Makes land with unimpeded runway access available for development beyond the 20-year Masterplan horizon.
Alternative Concept 1
Alternative Concept 2

Concept 3

Divert/close Manaia Road – this provides additional benefits but requires changes to the Manaia Rd route.

  • Requires the diversion of Manaia Road through residential areas, or the closure of Manaia Road.
  • Excludes development south of the runway – this protects the existing Wings high energy zone (safety area).
  • Relocates the grass runway to create additional viewing area for Wings over Wairarapa and protect the open character of the existing airfield.
  • Places the attractions area centrally on the airfield as a focal point.
  • Makes land with unimpeded runway access available for development beyond the 20-year Masterplan horizon.
  • The area available immediately for new hangar developments is more limited.
Alternative Concept
Alternative Concept

Questions and Answers

Why is a master plan required?

An Aerodrome master plan helps provide for orderly development to meet current needs without compromising development that may be necessary to meet potential future needs – a planned way forward for the next 20 year. It’s primary purpose is to plan for the future provision of facilities and protect an appropriate area of land for the facilities to be constructed when required, and it needs to be flexible enough to accommodate future changes that may arise and cover the aspiration of the aerodrome into the future. It will allocate spaces for hangars, attractions, roads, parking and services like power, water, stormwater and data.

Airports in New Zealand take a common approach to master planning. You can read more about this in the airport master planning good practice guide »

When would the process of acquiring land start?

The land purchase negotiations would start after the council have adopted the master plan which is expected in the third quarter of 2021.

When would work start on widening/lengthening the runway?

The widening of the runway is tagged as a milestone in the first of two project stages, and the lengthening is to occur in the second stage. The first stage of the project is through until June 2022, and stage two from July 2022 through until December 2025.

How long would that work take?

The infrastructure project that is funded by Council and central government is due for completion late 2025, however the master plan is enduring and designed to support the aerodrome through until 2041 and beyond.

What process will you follow to finalise the master plan?

Beca were appointed as the lead consultant for the master plan development, following a procurement process. The process that we are following to prepare a master plan is:

    • A series of sessions with key stakeholders led by Beca with:
      • Existing Hood Users (workshop and online survey)
      • Wings Over Wairarapa
      • Aviation Centre
      • LifeFlight
      • Civil Defence
      • New Zealand Defence Force
    • Public engagement from 10-31 May, including public workshop (10 May)
    • Refine the concepts based on feedback from engagement and consultation
    • Present the plan back for public review and final comment
    • Review by the Strategic Advisory Group and Safety Committee
    • Approval by Council

When will hangar sites be available?

There is strong demand for hangar sites. Our priority is to have lease sites on Council-owned land made available as soon as possible. It is our intention to release sites following Council approval of the master plan, and following necessary infrastructure upgrades.

Why not move Hood to a better location?

Pilots know that whoever decided to locate Hood Aerodrome where it is made a very good choice. The runways are well aligned to avoid mountains and hills on approach, and the aerodrome itself has less wind than most places in the Wairarapa. This makes it ideal for aircraft operations including the unique vintage aircraft. Moving to another location would be extremely expensive and not an option that we are considering.

What consideration has been given to the the environmental impact of the upgrade to the Hood Aerodrome?

The application for funding for the project included the following information:

Sustainability and carbon reduction

The aviation industry has long been at the forefront of the adoption of new technologies.

Like many airports, we intend to develop a sustainability plan that reduces our carbon emissions and enables lower carbon transport. In the longer term, Hood Aerodrome will become a key low carbon air transport facility.

It is anticipated that growing the knowledge-intensive / high-tech element of Hood Aerodrome’s operations and operators will enable Hood and those that use it, to play an important role in carbon footprint management.

Carbon fibre aircraft will also play a role in reducing NZ’s aviation climate footprint as lighter planes will drive fuel efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. For completeness we note that current visual flight aircraft do not contribute a large amount of emissions, and domestic aviation is not a large contributor to energy sector emissions. Emissions associated with domestic aviation fuel use are captured by the NZ ETS, and reporting and offset/surrender obligations are required. In the short to medium term, we are investigating options to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and have engaged with promoters of solar energy who are interested in using Council’s land (some of it based around Hood) to generate electricity. Interim measures may include biofuels and synthetic fuels.

In relation to the proposed infrastructure development, we will seek out ways to reduce waste and any negative environmental impacts of construction throughout the project.

Why invest in a longer runway when the future is for electric and hydrogen powered aircraft that can take off vertically?

The master plan will protect all options. While electric aircraft and hydrogen-fuelled aircraft may be an important part of the future of Hood Aerodrome, most experts indicate there will continue to be a place for fixed-wing aircraft including larger biofueled conventional aircraft, and these aircraft need a longer and wider runway than what we currently have.

What happens if land negotiations are not successful?

The master plan would still set out the vision for the next 20 years and keep open the possibility of successful negotiations at a later stage. Development would start in line with the master plan, when the land was available.

What is a RESA and why do we need one that's 240 meters at each end?

Runway End Safety Areas (RESAs) are a formal means to limit the consequences when aeroplanes overrun the end of a runway during a landing or take-off, or undershoot the intended landing runway. This is a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirement for all new runway development.

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