Fortyfive holiday-makers left Whanganui airport this morning bound for five glorious days in the Chatham Islands.
The special charter flight was a partnership between Air Chathams and tour operator Merv Halliday from Te Anau.
It was the first time a Chatham Island's tour has departed from Whanganui.
Halliday regularly charters an Air Chathams' aircraft to fly passengers from Manapouri to the Chatham Islands every summer and the suggestion was made to offer a tour package to take off from Whanganui.
A first tour, scheduled for January was quickly booked out so more were scheduled for October, November and another due to leave on Boxing Day.
"I believe this is the largest New Zealand tour group ever to visit the Chatham Islands," Halliday said.
Air Chathams' founder Craig Emeny was piloting the Convair aircraft that would carry the passengers who are mostly from Whanganui and Taranaki.
Tracy Richards from Kai Iwi said the tour appealed to her because she has heard good things about the Islands from her parents who visited 10 years ago.
"The price was great too, so I had to get on board."
Colin McGrail from Whanganui said he has longed to go to the Chathams since he was a child.
"Dad applied for the police officer post there in the 1960s but he missed out when someone more senior applied.
"I was very disappointed so I'm pleased that I finally get to go there."
Sylvia Stewart from New Plymouth said the Chathams was a place she had always wanted to visit.
"I retired last week and this is a perfect way to start it off."
Margie Wyatt is a born and bred Chatham Islander who was offered a special deal for the tour.
"I offered her a discount in exchange for helping out as a guide on the tour," said Halliday.
Wyatt is now a school teacher living in Waiouru.
"I have been living here for 10 years but I go back to the Chathams for visits often.
"When I saw that there was an opportunity to fly from Whanganui I knew I had to go."
Halliday says he first visited the Chatham Islands in 1988 and he loves it there.
"I remember the pub owner banging his fist on the counter and saying 'Everyone who visits says they will come back but no bastard ever does.'
"I decided to be the one who did go back and take some people with me."
The passengers who boarded the plane in Whanganui will spend five days and four nights exploring the Chatham Islands before returning home on Sunday, October 7.
Passports are not needed to travel to the Chathams which have officially been part of New Zealand since 1842.
Bookings are still open for the tour departing Whanganui on December 26 at 3pm. The package includes flights, seven nights accommodation and eight days of guided tours at a cost of $3740 per person. More at chathamislandtours.nz