Winston Aldworth 's Opinion

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: The capital curse

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A Jetstar Airbus A320 landing at Wellington Airport. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A Jetstar Airbus A320 landing at Wellington Airport. Photo / Mark Mitchell

If you've made a few landings at Wellington Airport, there's a decent chance you've experienced at least one hairy approach. Nearing the capital's runway, aircraft lurch about as they are buffeted by sudden crosswinds.

The problem is not so much the gusting southerlies that whip in off Cook Strait so much as the roaring icy farts of Satan that thunder up from the depths of hell, slamming your flimsy, flying tin can from all directions.

Passengers - some going to the All Blacks v Pumas test - heading into Wellington on Saturday screamed in terror as their Jetstar flight pulled out of two attempted landings. The pilots eventually made the safe decision to return to Auckland. It could have been worse: had the plane landed safely, they might have had to sit through 80 minutes of dour footy.

In January, the Daily Telegraph named Wellington as one of the world's scariest places to land. I'd say it should be near the top of the list.

Most of the other airports on the Telegraph's list are defined by awkward geography. Like landing in Queenstown, we can trust the pilots to be prepared and have a plan. But it's hard to imagine they can plan for a Wellington tempest.

My own Wellington highlight came during a trademark rollercoaster approach. As bored civil servants idly flipped through the in-flight magazine, a capital novice seated just ahead of me screamed: "I DON'T WANT TO DIE!"

She lived. But the smug chuckle of her fellow passengers probably made her wish there was a hole she could crawl into.

Did I chuckle? Nope - I was too busy clutching my armrests and sobbing uncontrollably.

- NZ Herald

Winston Aldworth

Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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