Auckland Airport is turning 50.

The first official passenger jet service was an Air New Zealand DC-8 flight to Sydney with 129 passengers on November 24, 1965.

However, Governor-General Sir Bernard Ferguson didn't officially open the airport until January 29, 1966.

About 60,000 people turned out to watch an air show held over Auckland Anniversary Weekend to mark the opening.


An Auckland Airport spokesman said there were no official celebrations this weekend to mark the anniversary.

However, a function was held last night and details of a few happenings would be released later today.

The first terminal served both domestic and international passengers for more than a decade.

A new international terminal was opened in 1977 by Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon.

Work has begun on a $180 million development which will double the size of the current international departure lounge.

High flying timeline


Jean Batten achieves fame on her third attempt at flying solo from England to New Zealand. Arriving at Mangere Aerodrome on October 16, she is greeted by a crowd of 6000. Her Percival Gull takes 11 days and 45 minutes for the 23,000km journey, a solo record that stands for 44 years.

1937:Union Airways builds a hangar at Mangere, marking the beginning of commercial aviation in Auckland.

1945:Whenuapai opens up to civil aviation but within a few years is deemed unsuitable for safety reasons.

1951: International Airport Committee is formed, made up of local politicians and business groups.

1955: The Government gives the green light for Mangere.

1960: Construction starts on October 10.

1965: Operations start ahead of official opening.

1966: On January 29, the airport is officially opened by Governor-General Sir Bernard Ferguson. On July 4, an Air NZ DC-8 crashes during a training flight, killing two crew members.

1967: In August, the Herald reports Mt Roskill Mayor Keith Hay as being "absolutely staggered" by the cost of a taxi from the airport to Mt Roskill. He had been quoted $2.45 ($34 in today's money) at the airport for the journey to Carr Rd but that was reduced to $2 after he complained.

1972: First jumbo jet lands.

1977: New international terminal opened -- eight years behind schedule.

1979: Air NZ Fokker Friendship crashes into Manukau Harbour on approach to the airport, killing two of the four crew.

1981: In July protesters clash with police as the Springbok rugby team arrives.

1987: Government corporatises the airport on a 50:50 basis with councils.

1989: Air Freight NZ Convair crashes into the Manukau, killing all three crew.

1992: Air Expo '92 attracts more than 200,000 visitors in one weekend.

1998: Government sells its 51.6 per cent share by public float. Shares list at $1.80 after a campaign fronted by Sean Fitzpatrick.

2007-08: Buyers hover, first from Dubai and then from Canada. An abrupt law change effectively nobbles a Canadian pension fund's bid for the airport.

2011: As many as 7000 Tongan rugby fans greet their team, providing massive impetus for the Rugby World Cup.

2016: The airport celebrates its 50th anniversary and announces plans for a $180 million international departures area.