Waipukurau – Passionate about flying since 1935

The running of the sheep

Sheep replace boy racers as exclusive users of Waipukurau’s main drag. Top: The town, looking west, pictured by Peter Scott

Waipukurau (population around 4000) is the commercial capital of Central Hawke’s Bay, although administrative power is wielded from the hamlet of Waipawa, five minutes’ drive to the north. Earlier inhabitants of Central Hawke’s Bay shared the views of like-minded rural people in the United States: a visceral fear of power being concentrated in large urban areas such as Waipukurau. This explains why Sacramento is the capital of California, rather than Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The town’s name translates from Maori as the River of Edible Fungus, which is nowadays not so appropriate because the Tukituki River which flows through it (and which you’ll cross on an approach to runway 20) suffers badly from human and agricultural pollution. Measures are afoot to clean up the river, and restore its reputation as a fine trout fishery.

Once a year, the town is gridlocked while the Running of the Lambs is staged. The event is similar to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain, but nobody speaks Spanish, Sangria is replaced by Tui beer and – as far as we know – no one has been trampled to death. This harmless celebration always outrages animal rights people, which pleases the locals immensely.

Waipukurau has a range of motels, cafes and shopping, typical of provincial centres in New Zealand, with its main street within about 15 minutes’ walk of the aero clubhouse. A motel borders the airfield at the northern end, if you are looking for accommodation nearby.

CHB Tiger Moth

From the very old… The club’s venerable Tiger Moth…

The Central Hawke’s Bay Aero Club (founded in 1935) owns the Franklin airfield and a small area of surrounding land, which it farms. This enables the club to operate its fleet at moderate cost to members, and not charge landing fees. The fleet includes a Tiger Moth which attracts interest because CHBAC is one of the few training organisations in New Zealand that can carry out Tiger Moth type ratings.

CHB Rans 6

… to the very new: CHB – the club’s sparkling Rans 6 microlight. Picture by Peter Scott

The airfield is uncontrolled, with no controlled airspace within the immediate area. The runway extends in a north-easterly (02) and south-westerly (20) direction and is 430 feet AMSL and 1000 metres long, with circuits only on the western side. Fuel facilities are available near the clubhouse – BP avgas and JetA1 fuel. There is a service station about 2km towards the town.

Sheep may graze the runway and will normally congregate to the southern end. They will be removed if you contact the club in advance of your arrival.

Runway 02’s threshold is vulnerable after heavy rainfall. A displaced threshold will usually be indicated by a NOTAM.

Aero club contact: CFI Ross Macdonald on 021 262 9550

Aero club email: chbaeroclub@gmail.com

Clubhouse phone: 06 858 8226

Landing fee: None

Taxi: 06 858 7920

Visitor information: Waipukurau i-Site

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