Airspace within close proximity to three well frequented passes is under threat

This is an urgent notice to all AOPA NZ members. Frequently used airspace around the Mackenzie Country is under threat. Please take the time to make a submission – see below.

What’s happening?
A Danger Area is being proposed per this airspace user consultation in the vicinity of the well frequented passes:

  • Mackenzie Pass
  • Burkes Pass
  • and a low level route into the Hakataramea Valley to the South

What can you do?
As part of the process, submissions are being sought, which must be submitted by 24 March 2022. You have an opportunity to make an individual submission.

AOPA NZ is opposing the proposal in its submission on the basis of safety concerning proximity to the passes listed above.

We have pasted below a condensed version of our submission for you to send if you so wish, along with any other comments you wish to make. It’s also here as a pdf if you prefer.

Email your submission to: with your own name included.

Make sure you use their reference – 21/ASD/17 NZ Army Burkes Pass


Template submission for you to cut and paste

Team Coordinator
Aviation Security and Infrastructure
Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
PO Box 3555
Wellington 6140

To: The Aeronautical Services unit

Re: Permanent Danger Area New Zealand Army Long Range Shooting Burkes Pass – Reference – 21/ASD/17 NZ Army Burkes Pass 

The following details my opposition to the proposed Permanent Danger Area New Zealand Army Long Range Shooting Burkes Pass. 

The Burkes Pass, Mackenzie Pass and an unnamed low level pass at the northern head of the Hakataramea River are some of the most commonly transited and important passes for aviators. As natural low points, they allow for routes between the east coast and Mackenzie Basin/Hakataramea Valley, areas which have vastly different weather patterns. 

Concerning safety, I identify the following:

  • The proposed area, inactive or not, concentrates the entry/exit angle to the Mackenzie Pass. Many pilots using this route will tend to avoid the danger area, as irrespective of being active or not, the large red area on charts denoted D_ _ _  is a deterrent to fly through it. Pilots may not have access to obtain NOTAM’s enroute if it was not their intention to fly in this area, and hence, likely avoid flying through it, thereby limiting their options
  • Often pilots will be in the vicinity of the proposed danger area during times of reduced cloud base given the proximity to the aforementioned passes. Typically, there will be a higher degree of workload in these situations, and this danger area only adds to it, limiting where the pilot can position the aircraft to ensure a safe transit
  • The danger area may prompt pilots to transit the alternative Burkes Pass route, which presents a more challenging flight path with less predictable wind/cloud formation given terrain and the Fairlie Range to the east

I oppose the establishment of the Permanent Danger Area New Zealand Army Long Range Shooting Burkes Pass.