Hokitika - Okuru, Sept 1932

The pilots were JR Renton and A Nancekivell and the plane was a Simmonds Spartan which belonged to the Westland Aero Club.


This survey flight from Hokitika to Okuru via Waiho Gorge (near Franz Josef Glacier) took place on 28 September with the return flight on 29 September.

An official airmail was carried with the total number of items flown being around 3,000. Special First Flight cachets were applied.

As the surface rate was now 1d, the total postage rate was 4d instead of the 5d of the earlier survey flights.

Hokitika to Okuru


The example cover is one of 977 flown from Hokitika to Okuru and is signed by the pilot, JR Renton.

okuru back

As the cover did not have routing instructions, an official Hokitika-Okuru routing cachet was applied in dull blue, the same colour as the First Flight cachet.

There are two different Okuru backstamps. The one on the right was applied on arrival in Okuru. Most of the mail was philatelic and the covers were returned to Hokitika. As some mail had not been postmarked or backstamped at Okuru, this was corrected at Hokitika where a relief Okuru backstamp was used. This additional backstamp is on the left.


Postal stationery postcard with the penny GV Field Marshall overprinted in blue by HALFPENNY. and sent from Hokiitika to Okuru.

The franking is 3d airmail surcharge plus ½d postcard rate.

The GV Field Marshall 1d postcard was issued on 26 January 1932. On 1 June 1932, the postcard rate was reduced to ½d and so the postcards were overprinted at various chief post offices to show the reduction in value. Blue was the correct overprint colour, but cards are also known overprinted in other colours.

Hokitika to Waiho Gorge


This cover is one of 468 flown from Hokitika to Waiho Gorge. It postmarked in Palmerston North on 23 September and would be carried to Hokitika by surface mail before being flown from Hokitika to Waiho Gorge on 28 September. It was backed stamped on arrival.

Again an official routing cachet was applied in dull blue, this time reading Hokitika-Waiho Gorge.

Waiho Gorge

Waiho Gorge is shown on the 9d Peace issue of 1946.

Waiho Gorge to Okuru


The next cover is one of 308 flown from Waiho Gorge to Okuru. It has a pair of Okuru backstamps like those shown above.


The Waiho Gorge First Flight cachet on the front should be pale mauve, but is instead dull blue. That means that the cachet was not applied at Waiho Gorge, with the mistake being corrected when the cover was returned to Hokitika. Hence the Waiho Gorge cachet is in the colour of the Hokitika cachet.

There is also a faint purple Okuru First Flight cachet on the back. This was used as a backstamp on some of the incoming mail.

40th anniversary
40th anniversary

60th Anniversary

Special commemorative sheets were produced by Stirling & Co. to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the flight. They show reproductions of an essay in the competition of designs for a proposed 1932 airmail stamp issue. Stirling & Co. had produced one of the other designs to commemmorate the 60th anniversary of the first trans-Tasman flights in 1928.

A regular airmail service between Hokitika and Okuru was set up in December 1934 by Air Travel (NZ) Ltd.

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All scans were made by the author. Information on this page is taken from:
Airmails of New Zealand, volume 1 (1955) compiled by Douglas A Walker, and the New Zealand Airmail Catalogue, (2nd Edition, 1994) by James Stapleton. Both are published by the Air Mail Society of New Zealand