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New Zealand's first international airport

Waterfront pier a gateway to international travel

Mechanics Bay in Auckland was home to New Zealand's first international airport. There was no runway - passengers travelled by flying boat, landed off-shore and embarked onto the pier.

An aircraft hangar was constructed at Mechanics Bay to maintain the flying boats in December 1939. Seen here ZK-AMA Aotearoa makes its first journey up the slipway and into the new hangar.

Air New Zealand archive.

In 1940, the inaugural flight by Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), ZK-AMA Aotearoa, flew from Mechanics Bay in Auckland to Rose Bay, Sydney. The first four months of operation saw a weekly return service between Auckland and Sydney and by 1944 there were three weekly return flights.

Mechanics Bay was the centre of international aviation for New Zealand until the 1950s. In 1953, after his ascent of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary flew home to Mechanics Bay in a TEAL Solent.

TEAL's popular Pacific Island holiday package, The Coral Route, continued their flying boat service from Mechanics Bay until 1960.