Air New Zealand has flown the first evening flight into Queenstown in preparation for scheduled commercial services later this month.
Saturday's proving flight was the first of several planned over the coming weeks before the first commercial evening service on May 23.
From this date the airline will operate a partial evening schedule between Auckland and Queenstown with the last flight arriving in Queenstown at 6.15pm before departing for Auckland at 6.50pm.
The airline's full evening schedule will take effect from 3 July 2016 when the last departure from Queenstown will be 7.30pm and the last arrival at 9.35pm.
New runway, taxiway, approach and apron lights have been installed at the airport as part of a $19.6 million upgrade to infrastructure to allow for after dark flights. Airlines have had to
Air New Zealand chief flight operations and safety officer, Captain David Morgan said the implementation of evening flights has involved significant collaboration across multiple stakeholders.
"It really is a milestone for New Zealand aviation and we're proud to be the first airline to offer this service to customers which is sure to bring significant benefits to the Central Otago economy through the additional flights."
The airline has invested in the latest technology to enable it to operate evening flights in Queenstown under Civil Aviation Authority requirements.
Jetstar will begin transtasman flights from the end of June. The extended operating hours will be a further boost for the popular tourist resort.
About 200 lights have been installed or repositioned, including approach path indicator lights, and touchdown approach, runway centreline, runway edge and threshold lights.
The runway works, carried out over the past six months in parallel with the lighting upgrade, has involved widening the runway from 30m to 45m and resurfacing it with a 110mm asphalt overlay.