Pamela Wade flies from Auckland to Whakatane aboard Air Chathams flight CV820.

The plane:

Metro III — a pointy-nosed, brightly-painted little twin-engined turboprop so cosy inside that even the height-challenged can enjoy the novelty of having to bend over double in the tube-like cabin. It seats just 19 passengers in 10 1x1 rows and sounds as though it's powered by a hive of bees.

Class: Just the one.


My seat: 7A over the wing. It was a snug fit, but perfectly fine for a such a short time.

Price: $77 for this one-way flight. Air Chathams offers prepaid multi-trip passes.

Flight time: 35 minutes — we arrived one minute late.

Fellow passengers: Only eight of us, just one in a suit. More were wearing Red Band gumboots (note: jandals are the minimum footwear permissible).

Entertainment: Two magazines promoting the Bay of Plenty and New Zealand tourism — but mainly the novelty of watching through the uncurtained doorway Captain Alan and First Officer Matt fly the plane.

Food & drink: Matt was far too busy up front to be bothered offering refreshments.

Toilets: You've got to be joking. It's only half an hour. But do note that there's not enough room to cross your legs.

Service: The check-in is friendly and personal, and we were ushered right out to the plane.

Luggage: The usual 23kg checked-in. There are no overhead lockers.

Airport experience: It's a long walk to the plane at the Auckland end, but Whakatane Airport is dinky and cute, and the control tower looks like something out of Toy Town.

When the plane door opens you can hear skylarks trilling and smell the curious cattle just over the fence.

Fly again? Certainly. Though if I were heading to the Chathams I'd hope for a bigger plane…

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